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Press Freedom Must Be Upheld

20 Dec 2012

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Chief Commissioner has expressed deep concern over recent attacks on journalists in Northern Ireland.
NIHRC Chief Commissioner Professor Michael O’Flaherty commented:
‘There has been a disturbing number of attacks carried out on members of the press in Northern Ireland over the past few weeks’ I strongly condemn these’ including the most recent attack endured by Belfast Telegraph Journalist Adrian Rutherford. Such acts are intolerable and they risk the most important of all human rights’ the right to life.
This situation occurs alongside a worrying practice globally of journalists being killed in the course of their vital work. Figures released yesterday by Reporters Without Borders indicate that 88 journalists were killed in 2012’ a third more than in 2011. It is a fact that human rights cannot thrive without a free press’ and the public interest is often maintained by those on the frontline of reporting.
United Nations human rights guidance is clear: ‘A free’ uncensored and unhindered press or other media is essential in any society to ensure freedom of opinion and expression and the enjoyment of other [human] rights. It constitutes one of the cornerstones of a democratic society’.’
Ends
Further information:
For further information please contact Claire Martin’ Communications Worker: (028) 9024 3987.
Notes to editors.
1. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.
2. United Nations General Comment 34’ Article 19: Freedoms of opinion and expression’ sets out guidance relating to the human rights protection of the press. Paragraph 13 of General Comment 34 states: ‘A free’ uncensored and unhindered press or other media is essential in any society to ensure freedom of opinion and expression and the enjoyment of other Covenant rights. It constitutes one of the cornerstones of a democratic society. The Covenant embraces a right whereby the media may receive information on the basis of which it can carry out its function. The free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens’ candidates and elected representatives is essential. This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censorship or restraint and to inform public opinion. The public also has a corresponding right to receive media output.’
3. Access the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Report here.

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