The International Press Institute (IPI) joined a group of global journalism and media freedom organisations in raising concern about the National Security Bill currently before the UK Parliament in a letter to The Times newspaper in London.
IPI Executive Director Frane Maroević joined the letter signed by 39 representatives from global media freedom and journalism groups, which highlighted the concern internationally about the impact the bill could, if left unamended, have on legitimate watchdog journalism.
Read the letter, which was published on Wednesday January 11 ahead of a debate on the bill in the House of Lords, in full below.
We write as a group of global journalism and media freedom organisations, to express our serious concerns about the National Security Bill currently before the UK Parliament, and the risk it poses to whistleblowing and public interest journalism.
Whilst we understand the UK government’s aim to update its espionage laws to protect national security, the draft Bill contains broad and vague definitions that we believe will, even if unintentionally, impact on legitimate whistleblowers and public interest journalism.
Clauses intended to target spies acting on behalf of foreign states could also bring individuals working for international media and NGO organisations, many of whom legitimately receive funding from foreign states, within scope of the Bill. This could have a chilling effect on the legitimate flow of public interest information to the UK general public, and create a blueprint that could be used by authoritarian governments around the world as a means to threaten journalists, activists and whistleblowers with lengthy prison sentences.
It is widely recognised that taking active steps to protect and prioritise media freedom is a means to improve good governance and tackle corruption. As a result any action on this by the UK Government will be a significant marker to the global community, watched and potentially copied by allies and adversaries alike.
We believe the UK government can strengthen its espionage laws for the modern age, whilst ensuring there are meaningful and robust protections for those acting in the public interest and promoting the duty to impart information and ideas to the public and the public’s right to receive them, specifically whistleblowers and journalists.
Elisabet Cantenys, ACOS Alliance (A Culture of Safety Alliance)
Cristina Zahar Secretariat Executive,Abraji (Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism)
Sasmito Madrim, President, Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) Indonesia
Simon Spanswick CEO, Association for International Broadcasting
William Horsley, Association of European Journalists (UK chairman) of European Journalists (UK)
Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, Ex President, Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists
Guy Black, Chair, Commonwealth Press Union
Jason Kint, CEO, Digital Content Next
Daniel Gorman, Director, English PEN
Angela Mills-Wade, Executive Director of the European Publishers’ Council (EPC)
Ruth Kronenburg, Executive Director, Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
Iqbal Khattak, Executive Director, Freedom Network (www.fnpk.org)
Modou S. Joof, Secretary General, Gambia Press Union (GPU)
Rachael Kay, Executive Director, IFEX
Martin Bright, Editor at Large, Index on Censorship
Anthony Bellanger, General Secretary, International Federation of Journalists
Frane Maroević, Executive Director, International Press Institute (IPI)
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary, National Union of Journalists
Owen Meredith, CEO, News Media Association
Wout van Wijk, Executive Director, News Media Europe
Milica Pesic, Executive Director, Media Diversity Institute (MDI), London
Mariam Gersamia, Chairwoman, Media and Communication Educational and Research Center “Media Voice” (Georgia)
Tabani Moyo, Regional Director, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
William Bird, Director, Media Monitoring Africa
Drew Sullivan, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
Owais Aslam Ali, Secretary General, Pakistan Press Foundation
Romana Cacchioli, Executive Director, PEN International
Kristian Porter, CEO, Public Media Alliance
Rebecca Vincent, Director of Operations and Campaigns, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Clothilde Redfern, Director, Rory Peck Trust
Dawn Alford, Executive Director, Society of Editors
Oliver Vujovic, Secretary General, South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)
Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA), Pakistan
Deborah Bonetti, Director, The Foreign Press Association
Liz Corbin, Deputy Director of Media and Head of News, European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
Quinn McKew, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19
Gypsy Guillén Kaiser, Advocacy and Communications Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
Ahmad Quraishi, Executive Director, Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)
Peter Greste, Chair, Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom
Mira Milosevic, Executive Director, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)