#NickTaylor-Vaisey, #BillS-231, #WorldPressFreedomIndex, #TheCanadianAssociationofJournalists, #ReportersWithoutBorders #CanadaEvidenceActandtheCriminalCode,
OTTAWA, Oct. 11, 2017 — The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) was pleased to announce last week that the possibility of Bill S-231 being passed by the Parliament will strengthen protections for journalists' confidential sources, media reports said.
The CAJ, which reportedly supported the 3rd reading and adoption of Bill S-231 -- an Act to amend the Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code (protection of journalistic sources) passed on October 4, 2017 -- sends a call to the country’s public officials to respect the role press freedom plays in a strong Canadian democracy.
CAJ represents reportedly more than 500 members across the country with their primary role to provide public-interest advocacy and high-quality professional development for its members and grant them greater power, except in certain circumstances, to refuse to surrender documents to law enforcement officials that would identify an anonymous source.
“This last year has been marked by repeated threats to journalistic independence and the press freedom that underscores our democracy, as well as Canadians' ability to have the information necessary to engage in public debate,” said CAJ president Nick Taylor-Vaisey. “Brave whistleblowers who approach journalists—speaking anonymously and at great personal risk—often expose stories of corruption and public interest. This bill will provide much-needed legal protection to those Canadians.”
Nick Taylor-Vaisey: Facebook
The creation of a special advocate, according to official reports -- who would, at the request of a judge look into continued protection of sources when legal authorities seek warrants for surveillance or seizure of records that could identify anonymous source -- was supported by CAJ.
But Canada is still struggles to provide certain basic press freedoms to journalists and ranked 22nd in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Reporters Without Borders: Facebook
“In recent years, law enforcement repeatedly tapped the phones of journalists. Courts consistently approved warrants that harmed press freedom,” said Taylor-Vaisey. “A federal agency went so far as to hire a private investigator to identify an investigative journalist's anonymous source.”
Published every year since 2002 by RSF, the WPFI is an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states. Because of its popularity, its influence over governments is growing and many heads of state and government fear its annual publication.
WPFI -- which ranks 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists -- is a point of reference that is quoted by media throughout the world and is used by diplomats and international entities such as the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank.
RSF, based in Paris, is an independent NGO with consultative status with the UN, United Nations Educational, Scietific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Council of Europe and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF).
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)