Click here for the WAN 3 May Manifesto
Major terrorist attacks and threats against countries world-wide, particularly democracies, in recent years have led to the widespread tightening of security and surveillance measures.
The objective of these measures is laudable and compelling – the protection of citizens against threats to life and property. There is, however, a legitimate and growing concern that in too many instances such measures, whether old or newly introduced, are being used to stifle debate and the free flow of information about political decisions, or that they are being implemented with too little concern for the overriding necessity to protect individual liberties and, notably, freedom of the press.
Anti-terrorism and official secrets laws, criminalisation of speech judged to justify terrorism, criminal prosecution of journalists for disclosing classified information, surveillance of communications without judicial authorisation, restrictions on access to government data and stricter security classifications, all these measures can severely erode the capacity of journalists to investigate and report accurately and critically, and thus the ability of the press to inform.
Balancing the sometimes conflicting interests of security and freedom might indeed be difficult, but democracies have an absolute responsibility to use a rigorous set of standards to judge whether curbs on freedom can be justified by security concerns and should set them against the rights protected in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees freedom 'to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers'.
This is the clear message we need to impress on governments and their agencies on World Press Freedom Day.
Chief Executive Officer
World Association of Newspapers
A number of individuals and organisations have made this year’s campaign possible. We would like to express our sincere thanks to Agence France-Presse, Russian Guild of Press Publishers, International PEN, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights in China, Michel Cambon, Sanjeev Saikia, Puran Choudhary, Tom Callaghan, Dominic Lambert, Beckman’s College of Design, Team Armstrong.