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HFHR issues opinion on rules for media in Parliament

The HFHR has prepared comments on the rules for journalists working at the Polish Parliament, the Sejm. The opinion is designed to present international standards relevant for adopting rules governing the media’s coverage of parliamentary works and formulating general recommendations in this respect.

Furthermore, the HFHR commented on the premises of the new rules for members of the media working at Parliament, which were presented on 14 December 2016 in a brochure of the Press Office of the Sejm Chancellery. We hope that the presented comments will be useful for journalists and decision-makers in the context of planning any changes in this respect.

“We emphasise in the opinion that the media’s ability to provide coverage of parliamentary works is crucial for the proper functioning of a democratic state ruled by law. Considering the importance of dissemination of information about the functioning of Parliament, any regulations that restrict media access must be drafted with great care so that the measures adopted do not transgress the limits of what is necessary in a democratic state”, HFHR lawyer Dorota Głowacka explains.

The Foundation calls on the proposer to carefully review the existing regulations and practices before commencing any works; the drafters of new rules should identify the areas that need to be changed and diligently justified why and to what extent the currently applicable rules are considered insufficient for ensuring an adequate level of safety and order at the Sejm.

According to the HFHR, the rules for journalists at the Sejm should, in particular, provide access to the parliamentary grounds to such a number of journalists that is sufficient to ensure the broad and unrestricted coverage of events in Parliament. Media people should be given a wide margin of freedom in accessing the Sejm buildings (including actual access to deputies) and an opportunity to record sound and video. Moreover, the media should be able to record sound and video during plenary sessions and committee meetings.

“Any solutions introduced under the pretences of maintaining order and ensuring a better organisation of journalists’ work that would deprive the public of the ability to effectively obtain independent and reliable information about parliamentarians’ work are entirely unacceptable”, adds Konrad Siemaszko, a member of the Foundation’s legal team.

To view the Foundation’s opinion, follow this link.

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