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Four hundred journalists sign petition denouncing intolerable pressure in newsrooms

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 27 September 2007 media release from the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), an IFJ regional group:

EFJ Supports Petition Against Censorship and Political Pressures on Journalists in Slovenia

Today the European Federation of Journalists, the European group of the International Federation of Journalists, brought its full backing to over 400 journalists in Slovenia who signed a petition to denounce intolerable pressure in the newsrooms.

"We are appalled that after months of protests and appeals by national and international media organisations the Slovenian authorities keep putting pressure on journalists in a grotesque manner," said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "Almost one-fifth of the professional journalists in Slovenia signed the petition and we now expect things to change rapidly in view of the Slovenian presidency of the EU in January 2008."

The text of the petition claims that the Prime Minister Janez Jan?a "restricts media freedom" in the country in various ways. For example the state owns shares in large Slovenian companies which are also co-owners of the media, thus allowing changes among chief executive officers, members of supervisory boards and editors-in-chief in most of the major Slovenian media. "The government has established an informal and influential decision-making pyramid," says the petition, and as a consequence, managers and editors-in-chief are "not able to respect the autonomy of journalists and they censor journalists' texts which are critical of the authorities".

Even assigned articles are often left unpublished, usually without any proper justification. The journalists also point out that opinion makers unfavorable to the government are refused access to certain media. Journalists are being given notice, they are degraded, removed from the working areas they have covered previously, transferred, discriminated against and obstructed.

During the EFJ General Meeting in Zagreb in March 2007, members of the EFJ jointly adopted a strong statement to condemn the situation in Slovenia, where the government had "drastically increased pressures on the media and journalists and its possibilities to affect editorial decisions".

Slovene journalists sent a letter about censorship and governmental pressures on journalists to the presidents, the heads of parliaments and the prime ministers of all European Union member states, as well as to a number of international organisations. The EFJ fully backs them and calls its members to support them.

See the petition and signatories: http://www.peticijazopercenzuro.com

The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in over 30 countries.

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