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Vienna Declaration calls on governments to respect media freedom in fight against terrorism

December 6, 2009

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, 30 November 2009 - Effective security and respect for freedom of expression and press freedom are not incompatible but, rather, complementary. This was one of the outcomes of the IPI-CILS conference, "The War on Words - Terrorism, Media and the Law," which was held in Vienna, Austria, on 5-6 October 2009 and ended with a discussion on a draft declaration of guiding principles. After further online discussions among the participants, the International Press Institute (IPI) has now launched the "Vienna Declaration on Terrorism, Media and the Law."

"The Vienna Declaration recognizes that a free and unfettered flow of information and ideas is an important antidote to terrorist ideologies and that a free media is indispensable in achieving this," said IPI Director David Dadge. "Governments and inter-governmental organisations, therefore, must ensure that any and all counter-terrorism measures or laws are consistent with international standards and that the media is free not only to report on terrorist acts, but also to exert its watchdog role over security policies."

IPI plans to use the Vienna Declaration as a tool that can be employed around the world to rally support for freedom of expression and press freedom, helping legislators, policy and decision makers, and the public at large balance the right to freedom of expression with the need to address the serious threat of terrorism.

Organised by the IPI and the Salzburg-based Center for International Legal Studies (CILS), "The War on Words - Terrorism, Media and the Law" brought together journalists, media lawyers, and security and counter-terrorism experts to discuss the impact of the fight against terrorism on civil liberties, in particular freedom of expression and of the media. Panel sessions focused on government efforts to broaden their law enforcement powers in the name of security, the watchdog role of the media in the fight against terrorism, and the relationship between freedom of expression and religious tolerance.

Thirty-two NGOs, all member organisations of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), have already endorsed the Vienna Declaration, including ARTICLE 19; Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ); Human Rights Watch; International Federation of Journalists (IFJ); Reporters Without Borders (RSF); and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Click here to read the Declaration:

International Press Institute
Spiegelgasse 2
1010 Vienna
ipi (@)
Phone: +43 1 5129011
Fax: +43 1 5129014

ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Association of Independent Electronic Media
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Center for Media Studies & Peace Building
Centre for Independent Journalism
Committee to Protect Journalists
Exiled Journalists Network
Human Rights Watch
Independent Journalism Center
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad
Inter American Press Association
International Federation of Journalists
Maharat Foundation (Skills Foundation)
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
Media Watch
Pacific Freedom Forum
Pacific Islands News Association
Pakistan Press Foundation
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms
Privacy International
Public Association "Journalists"
Reporters Without Borders
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
World Press Freedom Committee

For more information contact:
International Press Institute
Phone: 43 1 5129011

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