Yesterday, May 3, was International Press Freedom
Day, and newspapers all over the world reprinted this
charter. Its provisions were approved by journalists
from 34 countries at a world conference on press censorship
held in London in January 1987. We carry it today
in the spirit of Sina Motallebi,
currently imprisoned in Iran, and of Liam
Clarke and Kathryn Johnston, recently arrested
A free press means a free people. To this end, the
following principles - basic to an unfettered flow
of news and information both within and across national
borders - deserve the support of all those pledged
to advance and protect democratic institutions.
Censorship, direct or indirect, is unacceptable; thus
laws and practices restricting the right of the news
media freely to gather and distribute information
must be abolished, and government authorities, national
or local, must not interfere with the content of print
or broadcast news or restrict access to any news source.
Independent news media, both print and broadcast,
must be allowed to emerge and operate freely in all
There must be no discrimination by governments in
their treatment, economic or otherwise, of the news
media within a country. In those countries where government
media also exist, the independent media must have
the same free access as the official media have to
all material and facilities necessary to their publishing
or broadcasting operations.
States must not restrict access to newsprint, printing
facilities and distribution systems, operation of
news agencies, and availability of broadcast frequencies
Legal, technical, and tariff practices by communications
authorities which inhibit the distribution of news
and restrict the flow of information are condemned.
Government media must enjoy editorial independence
and be open to a diversity of viewpoints. This should
be affirmed in both law and practice.
There should be unrestricted access by the print and
broadcast media within a country to outside news and
information services, and members of the public should
enjoy similar freedom to receive both foreign publications
and foreign broadcasts without any interference.
National frontiers must be open to foreign journalists.
Quotas must not apply, and applications for visas,
press credentials, and other documentation requisite
for their work should be approved promptly. Foreign
journalists should be allowed to travel freely within
a country and have access to both official and unofficial
news sources and be allowed to import and export freely
all necessary professional materials and equipment.
Restrictions on the free entry to the field of journalism
or over its practice, through licensing or other certification
procedures, must be eliminated.
Journalists, like all citizens, must be secure in
their persons and be given full protection of law.
Journalists working in war zones are recognized as
civilians enjoying all rights and immunities accorded
to other civilians.
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