Spotlight on protection of sources and safety on world press freedom day
Séamus Dooley, Stephen Pearse, Beth Costa , Colm O'Gorman, Jim Boumelha, Gerry Curran & Barry McCall in the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin - © Maxwell Photography Dublin
3 May 2012
The NUJ supported Press Freedom Day in the UK and Ireland by campaigning to protect journalists' safety in the field and by defending their right to protect sources and material.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"On world Press Freedom Day, we are defending the core principle enshrined in the NUJ's Code of Conduct – the protection of sources. It is a vital aspect of a free press – that whistleblowers and sources need to be able to come forward and share information they believe the public should know about in the certain knowledge that their identifies will be protected.
"We are raising awareness of the growing threat to the ability of journalists to do their jobs safely, to guarantee their material and to protect their sources. Without that protection, we simply won't have a functioning free press. We will fight the increasing use by police of production orders.
"We cannot have a situation where journalists are seen as instruments of the state – their work should not be used by police as a short cut in their investigations, and their sources shouldn't in any way be compromised or identified."
The NUJ is working with the government to put pressure on regimes which are attacking press freedom.
More than a hundred journalists and media workers were killed in 2011. The deaths of Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik in Syria in February made international headlines, but in many parts of the world attacks on journalists attract far less attention. Their continued courage in the face of threats and intimidation is what protects our fundamental rights to a free press and to freedom of speech.
To mark World Press Freedom Day, Jim Boumelha, president of the International Federation of Journalists, Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, Barry McCall, NUJ vice-president, and Colm O'Gorman, executive director, Amnesty International Ireland, laid a wreath In front of the bust of Veronica Guerin, the murdered Sunday Independent journalist, in the memorial garden at Dublin Castle.
They also called for the release of imprisoned Chinese journalist Shi Tao. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence for exposing attempts by the Chinese government to manipulate coverage of the 15th anniversary of the 1989 pro-democracy uprising.
Michelle Stanistreet said:
"The NUJ is in contact with sister organisations in countries such as Somalia, Russia, Bahrain, Nigeria, Indonesia and Colombia among others to protect journalists under attack. We are working with members of the NUJ Parliamentary Group to use political pressure in individual cases.
"The UK government must take the lead in shining the spotlight on countries that appear to be dragging their feet in protecting journalists; raising awareness; assisting member states to develop their own legislation and mechanisms for protecting journalists; improving collaboration with relevant agencies; and developing further safety initiatives, which may include the creation of so-called media corridors in conflict zones."
The date 3 May was proclaimed world press freedom day by the UN General Assembly in 1993. It is used to inform citizens of violations of press freedom - a reminder that, in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down. Journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.