Press freedom essential for whistleblowers

Press freedom is essential for protecting public interest whistleblowing

Highlighted by Cathy James, Chief Executive of Public Concern at Work in their latest weekly newsletter.

This week we focus on the release of the World Press Freedom Index 2014. Non-profit organisation Reporters without Borders has released their latest index on freedom of information around the world.

Those at either end of the scale have experienced little change since the 2013 index. Finland tops the index for the fourth year running, closely followed by Netherlands and Norway. At the other end of the index, the last three positions are again held by Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, three countries where freedom of information is virtually non-existent.

What is striking about the 2014 index is how the poor treatment of whistleblowers has served to negatively impact freedom of the press in established democracies. Democracies that are said to have “sacrificed” information to national security and surveillance. The United States fell thirteen places due to its “hunt for leaks and sources.” The conviction of Chelsea Manning, the pursuit of Edward Snowden and the upcoming trial of journalist Barrett Brown were all cited as contributing to their decline. The United Kingdom dropped three places due to the pressure the Government placed on the Guardian following the publication of the NSA files and the detention of David Miranda, which may have suffered a further blow in light of yesterday’s high court ruling as Miranda’s detention under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 was ruled lawful. In his judgment, Lord Justice Laws said stopping Mr Miranda was a “proportionate measure in the circumstances.” Liberty, who intervened in the case, has issued this press statement.

Also this week, Edward Snowden’s lawyer claims she was harassed at Heathrow, Chris Grayling has been accused of trying to manipulate parliamentary answers, the Glendene Academy is investigated by police following whistleblowers’ allegations that Education Funding Agency financing was used to pay salaries and running costs of a private company, former whistleblower appointed as the country’s first patient safety ombudswoman and finally an overview of the most commonly reported ethical concerns in the media over 2012 and 2013.

Public Concern at Work is a founding member of WIN.

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