Controversial journalist sources law passes

  • 2010-11-24
  • TBT Staff

The new law on freedom of the press passed through parliament after a year of impassioned debate.

TALLINN - Estonia's parliament has passed the controversial journalist sources law that sparked fierce debate earlier this year over the sections that deal with protection of sources.

The Newspapers Association has petitioned to Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder, asking him to review the constitutionality of the bill.

In March, Estonia’s newspapers printed blank front pages in protest of the new law, at which time the bill stated Estonian journalists would face hefty fines or jail time of up to one year for revealing their sources in a set of more than 50 exceptions to the law on press freedom.

Though the law has been toned down since then, it still faces criticism over vague and easily abused passages concerning what Estonian newspapers are allowed to print - such as one section that provides for issuing fines to media outlets that "give an inappropriate assessment" of events.

Although Estonia ranks fairly high on media freedom indexes and is unlikely to slip back, some, such as Eesti Ekspress journalist Tarmo Vahter, have warned that the new law could lead to a new British-style "libel culture", Estonian state media outlet ERR reported.