The global media has asked Queen Elizabeth II of Britain to reject a proposed Royal Charter that would endanger the freedom of the press.
A group of leading global press freedom and media organisations, in an open letter to the Queen, said the Charter despite its camouflage, is in reality “a set of repressive statutory controls being imposed on the press against its will”.
According to the group, the United Kingdom has consistently been a major campaigner for freedom of expression and a beacon of liberty across the world for over three centuries since it abolished the last set of statutory controls on the press in 1695, and so signing the the Charter would not only have an impact on press freedom but would also be used by repressive regimes worldwide to justify their own control of the press.
The letter which was signed by seven international media organisations said further: “The actions of Britain’s Parliament will be used as an excuse by those who want to muzzle the press in their own country and stifle the free flow of information – and there are many governments who would love to do so.”
It noted that the “freedom of expression was central to the European Convention of Human Rights which Britain helped draft. It is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the UK is a signatory. It is a core belief in the Commonwealth Charter which Britain inspired.”
“Yet all that is now in danger. No one should be in any doubt that the proposed Royal Charter which politicians are forcing Your Majesty to sign is, despite the camouflage, in reality a set of repressive statutory controls being imposed on the press against its will. That should not be the function of a Royal Charter,” the group said.
A Royal Charter supported by the main political parties will be put forward for approval to the Privy Council on October 30. An alternative charter drawn up by the industry was rejected by the Privy Council.
The letter to the Queen was signed by the following members of the coordinating committee of press freedom organisations: Commonwealth Press Union Trust, The Worldwide Magazine Media Association, FIPP, the Inter American Press Association, the International Association of Broadcasting, the International Press Institute, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, WAN-IFRA, and the World Press Freedom Committee.