Australia: ‘Journalists need better protection, not prosecution’

This statement was originally published on on 16 December 2020.

Australian journalists still face the threat of prosecution and jail for doing their jobs following the government response to a parliamentary review of the impact of national security laws on press freedom.

While the response contains some improvements to oversight and transparency, without broader reform journalism will remain criminalised in Australia.

“The impetus for this review was the raids on consecutive days in 2019 of the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC offices in Sydney,” said MEAA Media Federal President Marcus Strom.

“Journalists who had done nothing other than report legitimate stories that were indisputably in the public interest.

“Australia will continue to have one of the most restrictive regimes for journalism and media in the democratic world even after the adoption of the recommendations of the Parliamentary inquiry.

“Government agencies can still obtain warrants to investigate journalists in secret, and journalists and their sources can still be jailed for truth-telling.

“There is an urgent need for much broader reform to remove laws that criminalise journalism.”

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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