Germany: The BND draft law must protect journalists

The emblem of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) at the entrance of the Mangfall baracks in Bad Aibling, southern Germany is pictured on June 6, 2014. AFP PHOTO/CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOF STACHE

The European Federations of Journalists (EFJ), along with its German affiliates – the Deutscher Journalisten-Verband (DJV) and the DeutscheJournalistinnen- und Journalisten-Union in ver.di (dju in ver.di) – urges the German Bundestag to back off on the revision of the Bundesnachrichtendienst –BND law, following the strong opposition of many media organisations and the OSCE.

The draft law foresees to increase BND’s capabilities to spy on non-EU citizens outside of Germany. No exemption is made for foreign journalists or editorial offices outside the European Union: they would be subjected to surveillance without an explicit court order. This law would legitimise a practice that has been illegal up until now.

On 4 August, eight media organisations, including the European Federation of Journalists, DJV and dju in ver.di, launched a campaign to demand the German government to include in the revised BND law a clause protecting journalists and their sources. As did the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, they considered the global mass surveillance by the BND as a serious encroachment on press freedom worldwide, since the right to protect journalists‘ sources and to refuse to testify are pre-conditions for journalistic activities.

Five media organisations also denounced this text by submitting an alert on the Council of Europe platform for the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists. As requested, the German authorities responded in due time and denied extending the powers to surveil foreign journalists. « The draft law enshrines a series of new protective provisions and places communications between EU citizens and the institutions and organisations of the EU and its member states under special protection for the first time, » one can read. The EFJ argues that without clear exemption clause for journalists, including those working abroad, such a law won’t serve EU citizens, but will rather undermine democracy.

Next Monday, 26 September, the Bundestag’s committee for the interior is organising a public hearing on the reform of the BND law.

Credit photo: AFP / CHRISTOF STACHE

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  • […] Der Kritik hat sich auch der größte europäische Journalistenverband EFJ mit einer eigenen Stellungnahme […]

  • […] Reporter ohne Grenzen fordert gemeinsam mit Organisationen wie netzwerk recherche, Deutscher Anwalt Verein, Amnesty International und PEN International den Deutschen Bundestag auf, den Entwurf des BND-Gesetzes umgehend zu überarbeiten und ausländische Journalisten vor Überwachung zu schützen. In der Stellungnahme heißt es, dass „die aktuellen Pläne einen tiefen Eingriff für die Pressefreiheit weltweit bedeuten würden, da die Überwachung ausländischer Journalisten legalisiert würde.“ Der Kritik hat sich auch der größte europäische Journalistenverband EFJ mit einer eigenen Stellungnahme angeschlossen. […]

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