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CMM: The public’s right to information may require journalists to act unlawfully

The CMM has issued a comprehensive statement outlining the meaning and importance of freedom of expression and how the Guidelines for Journalists stand in relationship with the law.

The CMM points out in the statement that there has been a lack of clarity on the Guidelines in recent public debate.

It says that an explanation on the meaning and importance of freedom of expression is necessary to the undermining of freedom of speech and the press in many parts of Europe.

The statement stresses that freedom of speech is not primarily aimed at protecting the rights of journalists but rather at safeguarding the public’s right to be informed.

“This is why freedom of the press and freedom of publishing are an important part of freedom of expression. They are essentially linked to the principle of publicity, that the information and documents held by public authorities are per se public. ”

 

The CMM stresses that journalists have to follow the Guidelines for Journalists, which are ethical rules binding on the profession. Journalists must also abide by the law.

However, the CMM points out: “ensuring the public’s right of access can, in exceptional cases, require journalists to engage in activities that may be subsequently interpreted as unlawful.”

The council says that journalists have a duty is to ensure the public’s right to information and the transparency concerning the exercise of power in society.

“As a result, freedom of the press is in a fundamentally tense relationship with the exercise of power in society. Such a tension is a healthy and desirable state of affairs in a democracy.”