In ten articles, the charter formulates principles for the freedom of the press from government interference - in particular for their right to safety from surveillance, electronic eavesdropping and searches of editorial departments and computers, and to unimpeded access for journalists and citizens to all domestic and foreign sources of information
The goal is to assert the charter’s validity across Europe and to make its adoption a condition in EU accession negotiations. The charta was handed over to the European Commission in Brussels on June 9th 2009 and to the Council of Europe in Luxembourg on October 26th 2009.
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“… It is also important [of course,] to preserve the independence and diversity of the media. This is vital to vigorous democracy in Europe. It is a political issue, in that it touches on two non-negotiable freedoms which lie at the very heart of our democratic societies: freedom of expression and the freedom of the press.
Just 20 years ago these freedoms did not exist in half of our continent, notably in Central and Eastern Europe. In the South of Europe of the early seventies, my generation dreamt of Europe because we dreamt of freedom. Still today, journalists in some parts of Europe are killed because such freedoms do not exist.
In the EU these freedoms have been won at a high price. Although they are engraved in our political and legal heritage they will have to be defended permanently. We have the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. I also strongly welcome the European Charter on Freedom of the Press, an initiative launched by Gruner & Jahr, signed in 2009 by 48 Editors-in-Chief and leading journalists from 19 European countries…..”
Ideally, journalists all over Europe will be able to cite the charter in cases of conflict with the state or with state-controlled institutions, and to call on their international colleagues for help and support.
If you are a journalist, please click on the following link to sign the charter online: Sign Charter
European Charter on Freedom of the Press
Freedom of the press is essential to a democratic society. To uphold and protect it, and to respect its diversity and its political, social and cultural missions, is the mandate of all governments.
Censorship is impermissible. Independent journalism in all media is free of persecution and repression, without a guarantee of political or regulatory interference by government. Press and online media shall not be subject to state licensing.
The right of journalists and media to gather and disseminate information and opinions must not be threatened, restricted or made subject to punishment.
The protection of journalistic sources shall be strictly upheld. Surveillance of, electronic eavesdropping on or searches of newsrooms, private rooms or journalists’ computers with the aim of identifying sources of information or infringing on editorial confidentiality are unacceptable.
All states must ensure that the media have the full protection of the law and the authorities while carrying out their role. This applies in particular to defending journalists and their employees from harassment and/or physical attack. Threats to or violations of these rights must be carefully investigated and punished by the judiciary.
The economic livelihood of the media must not be endangered by the state or by state-controlled institutions. The threat of economic sanctions is also unacceptable. Private-sector companies must respect the journalistic freedom of the media. They shall neither exert pressure on journalistic content nor attempt to mix commercial content with journalistic content.
State or state-controlled institutions shall not hinder the freedom of access of the media and journalists to information. They have a duty to support them in their mandate to provide information.
Media and journalists have a right to unimpeded access to all news and information sources, including those from abroad. For their reporting, foreign journalists should be provided with visas, accreditation and other required documents without delay.
The public of any state shall be granted free access to all national and foreign media and sources of information.
The government shall not restrict entry into the profession of journalism.