Friday, March 19, 2010

Estonian Press Protests Against the Source Protection Act

Source: EstonianFreePress - Estonian Press Protests Against the Source Protection Act

The six major Estonian newspapers – including names as Postimees, Õhtuleht and Äripäev – decided to go for a silent protest and left today one of their pages completely blank.

The explanation of the protest is that this is going to be the future of Estonian press if the government will approve the source protection act 656 SE, which would make possible to punish with imprisonment journalists in the field of investigating journalism.

The act would in fact allow law enforcement bodies to oblige journalists to disclose the sources of information and fine the publishers for a warning before a revealing article is released.

In Estonia, free press has been taken accounted for years. According to the international organization „Reporters Without Borders,“ Estonia was on the sixth place in the world for press freedom while on the same ranking realized by „Freedom House,“ the country was placed on the 14th – 17th place.

Mart Laar, the chairman of Isamaa and Res Publica union, doubts that the act is going to be approved in the government.

“The attorney general Rein Lang has the opinion that the act, above all, protects the press. However, if those who the act should protect find that it restrains them, a major problem exists,“ said Laar this morning to Kuku radio in the programm „Ärataja“.

He also said that he had not seen the blank pages of the newspapers; however “it is very good to live in a country where the press can show its attitude towards one or another act of law.”

The ministers, on their side, denounced the protest in the Government’s press conference and expect a debate on the topic instead.

The Minister of Internal affairs, Marko Pomerants, said that in his opinion the Estonian newspapers overestimate themselves.

“The cases they describe do not exist. I cannot remember any cases from recent history, where a danger would lie in this context” he said adding that he thinks papers are doing politics.

Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi added that he likes the blank front pages. If a politician is judged because of one’s slogans, then today’s papers even have no slogans.

“It is not about the freedom of word. It is so that the court could acquire information from the press in case of a difficult crime,“ Ligi said. He added also that the debate is about a very specific topic, not because the media is being constantly attacked. “But write about the debate as well,“ he suggested.

The Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said that the white pages do not represent the readiness to debate of the press. He says that this is a European act and if someone wants to specify anything, it can be done through a discussion.

“By excluding yourself from the debate with white pages, we cannot do that. Retreating from the debate does not increase the trust. “

Ansip added that at the moment the source protection does not exist and a court can question a journalist and one must answer.

“There is no muzzling, you muzzle yourselves with the white page, “said the Prime Minister.

2 comments - React:

MatthewFox said...

I do not blame the news agents for the protest. They have a point, but Freedom of the Press is a double-edged sword. It is abused by many.

However, the Estonian journalists should not be facing jail time for investigative journalism. This sort of reporting has done much to protect the people, and in many ways it can keep a country safe and informed.

被リンク増加 said...

War for the profit.