Monday, November 11, 2019
Together with 12 international press freedom organisations and international journalists representative organisations, Free Press Unlimited calls on the Dutch Senate to amend the current law "Criminalisation of Residence in an Area Controlled by a Terrorist Organisation" and make a clear exemption for journalists. This was done via a joint statement sent to the Dutch Senate on Friday, 8 November 2019.

Free Press Unlimited and the 12 international press freedom organisations believe that press freedom is essential in a just and democratic society. Journalists have a public function to provide information to the public about what is happening in terrorist-held areas. The organisations therefore request that members of the Senate include a clear exemption for journalists from any authorisation beforehand to report from terrorist-held areas.

Consequences for journalism

In its current form, the law creates serious restrictions for the work of Dutch journalists in terrorist-held areas. 

  • It is unclear which areas belong to the definition of "terrorist-held." This opens the door to arbitrary decisions and restrictions on the freedom of movement of journalists. 
  • By requesting permission of the state to travel to areas which clearly have a relevance for the public, makes it impossible for journalists to operate independently and to fulfill their function as a watchdog of the democracy.
  • The law does not specify the criteria that journalists must meet to receive a permission. This creates a real risk of arbitrary government action;
  • Restricting journalists means restricting press freedom and the people's right to information.

Make an exception for journalists

It is essential that the Netherlands continues to play an exemplary role and promotes freedom of the press. Especially now that civil society and journalists are under great pressure. Therefore, make an exception for journalists when applying the Criminalization Act to stay in an area controlled by a terrorist organization.

The statement has been signed by: Free Press Unlimited, World Press Photo, Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, International Media Support, International Press Institute, Pen America, Article 19, Palestine Center for Development and Media Freedoms, European Federation of Journalists, International Federation of Journalists, Freedom House and Media Rights Agenda.