Protest against European photo censorship

From today’s pres release about the “Perpignan Call,” a petition to oppose privacy rights that amounts to censorship of photojournalism in Europe.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, today announced its support to the “Perpignan Call,” a petition in favor of the right to information through pictures and the right to publish news photographs.

The petition was jointly launched by the International Festival of Photojournalism ‘Visa pour l’Image’ and by the French weekly magazine Paris Match, following a recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights in the Erignac case. The Strasbourg-based court ruled that the right to show and publish the photograph of an attack, even when it is a political event, must receive prior authorization from the relatives of the victim(s) to respect their right to grieve.

“This ruling goes against the principle of press freedom and deprives the European public of its right to be informed,” said Arne König, EFJ chair.

Claude Erignac, the highest official representative of the French State in Corsica, was assassinated in the street in 1998 for political reasons. This event had a considerable impact on public opinion and people in Corsica demonstrated for the first time ever to demand that law and order be restored. Shortly after the assassination, Paris Match published a picture of Erignac’s body lying in the street after he was shot in the back. Erignac’s family brought the magazine to court for publishing the photograph, claiming it was an intrusion on their right to privacy.

“Photographs such as the one of Mr. Erignac may cause distress but they have news value,” König said. “They stand witness to the attacks suffered by our own democracies in Europe and they often prove to be a crucial way to bring European citizens’ attention to forgotten conflicts in another part of the world.”

The “Perpignan Call” says the right to take and publish news photographs in Europe is of great importance.

Here’s the website (in French) of Perpignan’s International Festival of Photojournalism which includes a link to sign the petition.