Amnesty International Australia holds grave concerns that the increasing intimidation of journalists by media companies compromises press freedoms in Australia and the public’s right to seek and receive information. This intimidation of journalists by Australian media companies will intensify a chilling effect on fair, accurate reporting of the conflict in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.
In recent months, in their role as publishers, some media companies have sought to criticise and discredit journalists who have expressed criticism of the actions of the Israeli government. In their role as employers, some media companies have sought to discipline journalists expressing criticism of the actions of the Israeli government, supporting ceasefire or calling for accurate reporting of the conflict. This has included the issuing of official warnings, removal of qualified, professional journalists from their roles covering the conflict in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel and, in some instances, the termination of employment.
Freedom of the press depends on journalists’ ability to fearlessly report the truth. Australia’s press freedoms are profoundly compromised when journalists refrain from imparting factual information accurately, fairly and transparently because they are afraid of retribution from their employers.
The freedom to seek, impart and receive information is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Freedom of the press is paramount to the prevention of present and future human rights abuses.
When journalists cannot report the truth without fear or favour, human rights violations may be obscured from public view and the fundamental right of the public to seek and receive information is compromised.