Estonia comes under growing international pressure to reject a proposed new law that "poses a serious threat to freedom of the press"

The leading European and global press and journalists’ organisations are calling on the Estonian Parliament to reject a proposal for a new law that would force journalists to reveal their sources or risk being sent to prison. Newspaper publishers and journalists have expressed their deep concern that the draft law now being considered by the Estonian Parliament "poses a serious threat to freedom of the press". Estonia’s Justice Minister Rein Lang recently introduced draft legislation to the Estonian Parliament that would oblige journalists to reveal the sources of the information they use. If adopted by the Parliament, the new law would enable courts to jail journalists who fail to reveal their sources and to impose fines on newspapers solely on the suspicion that they intend to publish "potentially harmful information".

The proposed law is being strongly opposed by the Estonian Newspaper Association (EALL). On 18 March, all of the six major national newspapers in Estonia took part in a coordinated joint action to protest against the draft law. Three of the newspapers left their front page blank, except for a short text expressing their opposition to the draft law. The other three titles did the same with inside pages.

The Estonian press is being supported by the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA), the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ). These organisations have sent a joint letter (sent on 29 March) to the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, calling on him "to do everything possible to ensure that the proposed unprecedented draft law is rejected in its current form and that amendments are introduced to provide full protection for journalists’ sources". They urge President Ilves to take "all necessary steps" to ensure that Estonia "fully respects its international obligations and standards of press freedom". Press and journalists’ organisations are afraid that the proposed law would have a significant negative impact on investigative journalism and articles based on information provided by whistleblowers. Furthermore, the draft law is in clear conflict with Estonia’s treaty obligations, international standards of professional practice and codes of journalism ethics, including The Code of Ethics of the Estonian Press.

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More information about ENPA can be found at www.enpa.be
Contact: Ben Carlin, European Policy Advisor
Tel: +32 2 551 01 90 / e-mail: ben.carlin@enpa.be

More information about WAN-IFRA can be found at www.wan-ifra.org
Contact: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Tel: +33 6 10 28 97 36 / e-mail: larry.kilman@wan-ifra.org

More information about the EFJ can be found at http://europe.ifj.org
Contact: Marc Gruber, European Federation of Journalists
Tel: + 32 2 235 22 00 / e-mail: marc.gruber@ifj.org

EMMA

The European Magazine Media Association, is the unique and complete representation of Europe’s magazine media, which is today enjoyed by millions of consumers on various platforms, encompassing both paper and digital formats. EMMA represents 15,000 publishing houses, publishing 50,000 magazine titles across Europe in print and digital.

www.magazinemedia.eu
ENPA

The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) is the largest representative body of newspaper publishers across Europe. ENPA advocates for 16 national associations across 13 European countries, and is a principal interlocutor to the EU institutions and a key driver of media policy debates in the European Union.

www.enpa.eu