Court case to determine right to protect sources


The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France, is hearing a case today (25.6.02) that could determine to what extent European journalists have the right to protect the confidentiality of their sources. A group of journalists and media organisations including International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) affiliate, the General Association of Professional Journalists of Belgium (AGJPB), have filed a petition against the Belgium government claiming their right to protect their sources was violated when authorities raided their homes and
offices in1995 and confiscated files, computers and other information.

IFJ says in June 1995, agents entered the offices of four media outlets (Le Soir, Le Soir Illustré, Belgian Radio and Television and De Morgen) and the homes of journalists Philippe Brewaeys, Walter de Bock, Martine Ernst, René Haquin and Alain Guillaume in search of their sources. This came after unnamed Belgian justice officials reportedly leaked information to the journalists about the ongoing investigation into the 1991 killing of a former Minister of State. The leaks led to legal proceedings against members of the State Counsel's Office on charges of
violating professional secrecy, notes the ECHR.

IFJ says the case is of "crucial importance" for European journalists since the court's decision will be binding on all Council of Europe member states.

For more details:
1. Visit the websites of the IFJ: www.ifj.org/publications/press/pr/368.html
2. The ECHR court: www.echr.coe.int/eng/PRESS/2002/june/HearingsJune2002.htm#Ernst

Story from: IFEX



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