My Czech Republic Home
Search My Czech Republic

 Community Message Boards Member Login
 Guidelines   Check your private messagesCheck your private messages  Profile  Search Forums  FAQ  Help  Chat Register for free!

Censorship in Czech media

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Forum Index -> Business
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
ChaCha
New Member


Joined: 08 Mar 2009
Posts: 3
Location: Århus, Denmark

PostPosted: 09-Mar-09 11:47  Reply with quote

Hello! I am a freelance journalist who will be in Prague next week, doing a report on censorship in Czech media.

Recently, a law was passed criminalizing the publishing of police wiretaps in the news, fining journalists 180,000 euros or up to 5 years in jail.
In addition, journalist Sabina Slonkova was fined for not revealing her sources last year, stating she had a right to protect the confidentiality of her sources.

Many feel this is a threat to the democratic principles of freedom of speech, something the government should uphold, considering their role in the EU presidency.

I would like to meet with anyone who knows about this topic, and heard this was a good way to get in contact with people.

Please let me know if you can help me out, I speak only English but will have a translator on hand.

Thanks,
Sarah Chase
sarahchase2@yahoo.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
wer
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Nov 2005
Posts: 1700
Location: East Bohemia

PostPosted: 09-Mar-09 16:38  Reply with quote

ChaCha wrote:
Hello! I am a freelance journalist who will be in Prague next week, doing a report on censorship in Czech media.

Recently, a law was passed criminalizing the publishing of police wiretaps in the news, fining journalists 180,000 euros or up to 5 years in jail.


Much ado about nothing, it is not as hot as the journalists try to depicture it.

First, the new law is not about police wiretaps in particular, but about any confidential information from public administration or criminal proceedings. Its purpose is to protect the constitutional right of privacy.

Second, there is pretty big consensus among lawyers and lawmakers that the new regulation is less strict than the former one.
The publishing of police wiretaps is illegal as it was before (there is another law about wiretapping in particular). The journalist who never protested against the old regulation, and now protest against the new one, are nothing but hypocrites.
There are more or less only two changes:

1) Newly, the act is illegal if and only if it inflicts considerable injury. Formerly, it was illegal always, hence the new regulation is less strict.
2) The new regulation pinpoints explicitly that the regulation applies for the information from criminal proceedings. The old regulation was loose in this respect as it was only about the public administration.

The journalists like to speak about public interest, but there is any public interest in publishing private information about victims of crimes, neither of the people who are accused of something. They are free to publish the information once it is published in court, but not before. It is enough that the information is available to the responsible state bodies (police, justice…). Publishing of such a information could be acceptable maximally to prove the inactivity of the state bodies, but that’s an extreme example and the court is entitled to rule out that the regulation doesn’t apply here as the publishing is in public interest.

The problem with the Czech journalist is that they use the public interest as an universal excuse to publish anything. They want to usurp the court’s power to decide what is in public interest.

In addition, the journalists fail to understand that the public interest is not automatic excuse for infringement of somebody’s rights. There is also the proportionality principle which says that the infringement is acceptable only as last resort if all other measures fail.

Quote:
In addition, journalist Sabina Slonkova was fined for not revealing her sources last year, stating she had a right to protect the confidentiality of her sources.

This is a case unrelated to the new law as the Slonková’s information was not from legal police investigation but from illegal recording.
But is is an excellent example of the journalist ignoring the proportinality principle. Slonková published an illegal tape as evidence of the meeting of President’s Chancellor with one of the Ex-PM’s lobbyists. The problem is that both the persons admited the meeting and thus no extreme measure was needed.
Slonková’s source was illegal. She was fined rightfully for protecting the crime.

Quote:
Many feel this is a threat to the democratic principles of freedom of speech

No, it is balancing between the freedom of speech and the right of privacy. The journalist’s claims are one-sided.

Most people agree that the regulation is not good, but there is nothing unconstitutional neither undemocratical on it.

Quote:
something the government should uphold

The law was passed by the Parliament and should be interpreted by the courts. Government has no role in it.

Quote:
considering their role in the EU presidency.


…and considering the global warming and the economic crisis. Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes

Quote:
I would like to meet with anyone who knows about this topic, and heard this was a good way to get in contact with people.

You should consult rather some legal experts than the journalists. Here is a blog on the topic by Tomáš Sokol, a prominent Czech advocate and former Minister of Interior. My comments here mostly coincides with Sokol’s opinion.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
wer
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Nov 2005
Posts: 1700
Location: East Bohemia

PostPosted: 11-Mar-09 1:28  Reply with quote

Quote:
You seem to know a lot about the subject, how is that?

It’s one of the top topics in Czech media.

Quote:
Is there a way for me to contact Tomas?


I don’t know whether he wants some publicity, but at least you could ask him for permission to quote from his blog or something like that.

The only contact I found is the contact to his office, not to him personally. See the home page.

You should also have a look on the actual wording of the regulation. The best source are most likely the Senat’s prints. Notice also the reasoning of Senat’s rejection. Everything is on www.senat.cz, but naturally it is all in Czech.

Read also the President’s reactions on the topic:

Answer of the President of the Republic to the chairman of the Czech Syndicate of Journalists Miroslav Jelínek
Response of the President of the Republic to the letter of editors of Czech media

Here is my translation of the first letter by President (Please consider it is not official translation, but my translation full of mistakes):

Quote:
Answer of the President of the Republic to the chairman of the Czech Syndicate of Journalists Miroslav Jelínek

Dear Mr. chairman,

I received your letter in which you, as the representative of the professional organization of journalists, ask me to send back for new proceeding in the Parliament of the Czech Republic the amendment of the criminal code, whose part is also the new regulation increasing the measures taken against anybody who illegally publish phone wiretaps of citizens.

I understand your concern, resp the concern of the journalist community and of the owners of media. But the role of the President of the Republic is not to represent the position of any particular interest group organization, even if it controls the powerful news media, but to follow the interests of the people as one whole. An unlawful release of police and other wiretaps prior to court proceedings significantly limits and threatens rights of innocent citizens. Only the court is entitled to decide whether the wiretapping is, or is not, instrumental in uncovering relevant evidence of possible criminal activity. This function in democratic state can not be substituted by anybody else, much less by the sensationalist journalists.
At the same time, I want to emphasize that I am incessantly resisting the police (but also private services) attempts to use the increasing number of phone wiretaps, that means the attempts to limit and intrude on the privacy of the citizens. In addition, the illegal publishing of the wiretaps drives new demand for this controversial instrument of police work.
Since not even from the constitutionality point of view, I can see an apparent problem in the bill that the Chamber of Deputies passed by a comfortable majority, I will not send the bill back to the parliament for new proceeding.

I hope that, if you leave your function in syndicate of journalists out of consideration, you as a citizen will understand my decision.

Yours truly

Václav Klaus


Well, and if you find me too one-sided Cool, you could contact the Czech Syndicate of Journalists. They are evidently eager to share their opinions.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Forum Index -> Business All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group
    RSS Help

Terms and Conditions - Privacy Policy

Copyright © 1998-2016 Local Lingo s.r.o.