ON THE OCCASION of World Press Freedom Day, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) challenges the media industry to unite against police interference when professional press photographers attempt to record news events.
New Anti terrorism rules mean that press photographers now face jail for taking pictures of police or the armed forces. In addition to this, there has been an increasing record of attempts by the police to restrict what is recorded at public order incidents.
Incidents at the recent G20 summit highlight the vital role of photographers and cameramen who act as the public’s eyes and ears at these incidents.
For years our members have been stopped or hindered in their attempts to record incidents by Police either acting as moral arbitrators or, latterly, abusing anti-terrorism laws. Now, after a change in those terrorism laws, Press photographers can face jail for taking a picture that shows a policeman or member of the armed forces.
Although it may be a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that he or she is a professional news-gathering journalist carrying a National Press Card or other acceptable identification, the CIoJ believes this is not enough.
On World Press Freedom Day we are calling for the Police to recognize the law they uphold and accept that it is the right of photographers to take pictures in any public place. Britain should be leading the world in ensuring true democracy and open speech and not curtail the free press which is fundamental to our human rights.
A photographer carrying Press accreditation should be allowed to do his job in the same way as the police officer.
It is simply not acceptable to clear the matter up afterwards when cameras have been seized or photographers have spent hours in a police cell instead of filing the pictures which capture the news.
1. World Press Freedom Day (May 3) is a day to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
2. May 3 was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom – a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.