A woman with tape over her mouth

Response to AFP Raids on Australian Press

Today’s raids by the Australian Federal Police on Australian journalists are the latest in what is emerging as a pattern of secrecy and curtailment of free speech from the Australian Government.

Amnesty understands that the raids on the ABC relate to the Australian Defence Force’s involvement in civilian deaths in Afghanistan. Amnesty has continuously called on the Australian Government to be transparent in its role in these and all civilian casualties.

Journalism is not a crime. A free press holds those in authority to account, exposing corruption and human rights abuses. That includes investigating and highlighting instances where the military break the laws of war or government oversteps community expectations.

The raids on the ABC and News Corp journalists appear to be an attack on freedom of expression and on journalists doing their job. This will have a chilling effect on this critical function of a healthy democracy, and Amnesty questions whether the government hopes these tactics will discourage whistleblowers from coming forward and holding the government to account.

Freedom of expression is a basic human right, as protected under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and a right the Australian government claims it wants to protect.

That includes freedom to express opinions that do not discriminate, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The Government should champion a free press, not attempt to stymie it.