The International Federation of Journalists and its regional group the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today welcomed the recent decision of the President of Portugal to veto the new Journalist Statute, which threatened journalists’ rights to protect their sources and undermined their authors’ rights.
“We salute the President’s reaction to this statute, which will protect press freedom and quality in Portugal,” said Arne König, EFJ Chair. “We know call on the Portuguese Parliament to review the Journalist Statute in line with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, which has underpinned the notion of the journalists’ right to protect their sources as a “cornerstone of press freedom.”
The Portuguese Union of Journalists, with the support of the EFJ, had called on the President of Portugal not to sign the new Statute, which was adopted by the Portuguese Parliament on 21 June, into effect.
The law said that courts investigating offences such as threats to state security and organized crime may order journalists to disclose their confidential sources, merely on the grounds that it would be difficult to obtain information by other means. The President of Portugal acknowledged that this provision contradicted provisions of the Code Criminal of Procedure on professional secrecy, leading to legal insecurity in a field he himself described as “particularly delicate to the journalist’s activity”.
The EFJ also calls on the Portuguese Parliament to remove a provision allowing employers to use the works of staff journalists in any manner within their media holdings during a period of 30 days following the date of first publication and without any additional payment.
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