On 25 May, 2009 48 editors in chief and leading journalists from 19 countries adopted and signed the “European Charter on Freedom of the Press” in Hamburg.
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 9 June, 2009 and to the Council of Europe in Luxembourg on 26 October, 2009.
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.