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IPI takes Vienna Declaration on Terrorism, Media and the Law to EU Commission

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, 6 October 2010 - IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills visited the EU Commission last week to discuss with various EU officials IPI's Vienna Declaration on Terrorism, Media and the Law. He was accompanied by the lead drafter of the declaration, Toby Mendel, now executive director of the Canada-based Center for Law and Democracy and formerly senior director for law at freedom of expression advocacy organization ARTICLE 19.

The declaration, which states that everyone has the right to access diverse, uncensored sources of information and calls on states to create an environment that encourages the development of a diverse, pluralistic media sector, was presented in Brussels to coincide with the first-year anniversary of the IPI-CILS conference, "The War on Words – Terrorism, Media and the Law", during which the declaration was drafted.

The declaration has been signed by 39 other freedom of expression organizations from across the world, including Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch.

Mills and Mendel met with the following EU officials: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove; Alexandra Knapton, member of the cabinet of European Commission; Vice President Catherine Ashton responsible for human rights; Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of Security Policy for the European Commission's Directorate-General for External Relations; Tim Jones, Principal Adviser to the Council of the European Union; Dana Trama-Zada and Telmo Baltasar, both Members of the Cabinet of European Commission; and Vice President Vivienne Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

At the heart of the discussions was the suggestion that effective security and respect for freedom of expression and press freedom are not incompatible but, rather, complementary.

IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills said after the talks: "It is vital that those responsible for shaping anti-terror legislation and policies appreciate that a free media, with full access to information in the public interest, is actually an essential component in any effort to combat violence. Where there is a lack of information, misunderstanding thrives. An information vacuum can be manipulated by those seeking to promote violence and extremism."

Participants in the talks agreed to follow up on possible future cooperation.

Click here to view the declaration

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