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French draft law on surveillance threat to journalists’ right to protection of sources

OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today urged French lawmakers to reconsider provisions of a proposed law expanding surveillance, which was adopted by the National Assembly of France on 5 May and sent to the upper house Senate for further debate.

The proposed law would allow new communication monitoring practices and investigative methods, and would grant law enforcement agencies special surveillance powers almost without judicial oversight.

“If enforced, these practices will impact the right of journalists to protect the confidentiality of sources and their overall work,” Mijatović said. “If confidentiality of sources is not safeguarded within a trusted communications environment, the right of journalists to seek and obtain information of public interest would be seriously endangered.”

“While I fully respect any nation’s right to protect its citizens, imprecise and intrusive provisions like these could stifle the right of journalists to seek, receive and impart information as well as discussions about critical and sensitive issues through any mean of communication and without fear of surveillance,” Mijatović said adding that security concerns should be taken care of through judicial oversight.

On 16 April the Representative sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius expressing the above concerns. Mijatović also noted the fact that representatives from civil society and business community, in France and abroad, raised their voices in large numbers in order to protect civil liberties.
The Representative recently raised her concern about decisions in France to block websites without judicial oversight. That statement is available at www.osce.org/fom/148276.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.

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