South Africa, Libya, Myanmar...Great Britain - foreign editors begin UK press freedom mission

A delegation from the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA) is holding a series of meetings today as part of a press freedom mission to the UK.

Previous such missions have gone to countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Myanmar. This is the first one to the UK.

The mission has been prompted by concern about the Government’s Royal Charter on press regulation and by its handling of revelations by The Guardian about state surveillance.

The delegates will meet Culture Secretary Maria Miller MP, chairman of the Commons culture commmittee John Whittingdale MP, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and a variety of freedom of expression groups and industry representatives.

WAN-IFRA chief executive Vincent Peyrègne said: “The WAN-IFRA membership is deeply concerned by the British authorities’ treatment of the profession of journalism and its attempts to control the public debate.

“The British government’s actions have far reaching consequences across the globe - particularly within the Commonwealth - and any threats to the independence of journalism in Britain could be used by repressive regimes worldwide to justify their own controls over the press.
 
“We will endeavour to investigate all elements that threaten the United Kingdom’s position as a bastion for free and independent media with the same rigour as we have approached other international press freedom hotspots in nearly 70 years of defending freedom of expression worldwide.”

The WAN-IFRA delegation includes:

  • Erik Bjereger - editor-in-chief and managing director, Kristeligt Dagblad, Denmark / President, World Editors Forum
  • Vincent Peyrègne - CEO, WAN-IFRA
  • Zaffar Abbas - editor-in-chief, Dawn, Pakistan
  • Roger Parkinson - former president and publisher of the StarTribune/former publisher of the Toronto Globe and Mail
  • Randi Øgrey - CEO, Mediebedriftenes Landsforening, Norway
  • Kjersti Løken Stavrum - general secretary, Norwegian Press Council
  • Matti Kalliokoski - senior editorial writer, Helsingen Sanomat, Finland
  • Jonathan Cooper - VP, Digital First Media, USA
  • Ebbe Dal, chair of the European Newspaper Publishers Association Committee of DirectorsThe delegation also includes observers from the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), the International Association of Broadcasting (IAB), the International Press Institute (IPI), the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

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