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WAN lashes out at Estonia over proposed law

  • 2010-03-31
  • Oskars Magone

WAN called on the president to block the law, which would block journalists from being able to protect their sources.

TALLINN -- The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) has issued a statement attacking a proposed law in Estonia that would limit the ability of journalists to protect their sources.

"It would, in particular, have a significant negative impact on investigative journalism and articles based on information provided by whistleblowers," said a letter to President Toomas Hendrik from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the World Editors Forum, the European Newspaper Publishers Association (ENPA) and the European Federation of Journalists.

The issue has rocketed into the spotlight recently, as on March 18 the largest newspapers in the country all ran blank pages in protest of the law. WAN issued its statement condemning the proposed law on March 30.

The law, if passed, 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”.

"“We are seriously concerned that this law poses a serious threat to freedom of the press... 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," the letter said.

“We respectfully call on you 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. We urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure that your country fully respects its international obligations and standards of press freedom,” it said.