Afrique Ameriques Asie Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Poland10 October 2008

Constitutional court confirms law punishing media publishing unauthorised articles

Reporters Without Borders today strongly condemned a Constitutional Court ruling on 29 September 2008, upholding the constitutionality of Article 14 of the 1984 press code allowing for fines on media publishing articles not checked and approved by those quoted in them.

The decision follows a case in which Jerzy Wizerkaniuk, editor of the weekly Gazeta Koscianska, was convicted under Article 14, for publishing an interview in February 2003 with parliamentary deputy Tadeusz Myler of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), based on an audio tape of an interview he gave the paper after which the deputy sued Wizerkaniuk for defamation.

In its judgement, the Constitutional Court specified that Article 14 offers “the guarantee of the rigour and truth of public debate” and “reflects the right to news that is precise, concrete and not misleading”.

“We are aghast at the decision taken by the Constitutional Court. This ruling is unworthy of a member state of the European Union and destroys all editorial independence of the media”, Reporters Without Borders said.

“The checking of an article before it appears should be left to the free judgement of journalists and the media. In recognising the constitutionality of Article 14, the court institutes a censorship worthy of the most repressive regimes. This kind of retrograde and anachronistic legislation is totally incompatible with European standards”, the organisation added.

“According to the court, this authorisation protects the reader from manipulation, while the permission is often a manipulation. It will be possible in Poland from now on to punish someone who publishes the truth”, Jerzy Wizerkaniuk said after the verdict was announced.

The journalist has decided to take the case to the European Court in Strasbourg, which has said it can receive his complaint.

One of the judges at the Constitutional Court, Andrzej Rzeplinski, distanced himself from the ruling. In an interview with journalists on Gazeta Wyborcza, Andrzej Rzeplinski said “[Late iconoclastic journalist, Oriana] Fallaci could not publish her interviews with Khomeini or Arafat here”.

A few days previously, on 19 September 2008, the Constitutional Court annulled Article 132a of the criminal code that provided for prison sentences of up to three years, for any one who publicly defamed “the Polish nation”, by accusing it of responsibility for war crimes committed by the Communists or the Nazis. This article was brought in on 15 March 2007, under the populist right wing PiS government. The decision will again give parliament the opportunity to vote on it again.




  In this country
21 October - Poland
President Kaczynski threatens Polish TV reporter during EU summit
30 August - Poland
Secret services raid journalist’s home to arrest ex-minister who blew whistle on tapping
9 August - Poland
Government urged to amend laws that restrict press freedom
26 June - Poland
Regional weekly editor told he will have to serve three-month prison sentence
21 June - Poland
Spanish daily and Catalan feminist face trial in Wroclaw for “defaming Poland”

in the annual report
Poland - Annual Report 2008
Poland - Annual report 2007
Poland - 2006 Annual report

Europe press releases
4 June - Kosovo
Rrokum TV station still excluded by national broadcasting network
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Turkey
Woman journalist held for past five weeks on baseless charge of link to armed group
2 June - Russia
Journalist seeks asylum in Finland after being convicted for prison torture articles
29 May - France
Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up

Reports
5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison
archives

Sign the petitions
Uzbekistan
Jusuf Ruzimuradov

Europe archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives