Journal of Environmental Peace

Issue 2, 2003

Editors:
Biswajit Ganguly
Roger Hansell

Editorial Board:
Anatol Rapoport
I.B. Turksen
Jerome Friedman
Jerome Karle
Joseph Rotblat
Martin Perl
Ronald Deibert
Ted Munn
Thomas Homer-Dixon
Yoshio Masui

Managing Editor:
Samprasad Majumdar

Corresponding Editors:
Eugenio Andrade, Colombia
Eva Kras, Mexico

News Editor:
Ivanka Anguelova

Assistant News Editor:  
Tony Yang

Assistant Editors:
Amanda Martyn

Anna Simonsen

WebMaster:  
Ian Crane

Web Designers:
Anna Simonsen

Sherosha Raj

Editorial Policy

 

Editorial: Issue 2, 2003

In this second edition of The Journal of Environmental Peace, we deal with the definition of environmental peace, security problems arising from the September 11 tragedy, and change in complex systems. Change in complex systems attempts to determine how social and environmental change happens—by evolution, revolution or some other process. Another paper deals with purifying air inside buildings. (For our next issue, we are soliciting papers on the environmental industry and alternative energy, and we urge readers with expertise in these subjects to submit articles . We also invite readers to express their opinions for our next News and Views section.) The concern in this issue is the journalist's right to report the news without interference. The Journal of Environmental Peace, devoted to publishing academic papers on issues of the environment and peace, is dedicated to freedom in publishing. As scientists and scholars, we defend our own right to independent expression of opinion; similarly, we support the right of journalists to report the news without interference. To that end, we are reproducing the essence of news releases of The Canadian Association of Journalists, a professional organization with more than 1,300 members across Canada that advocates on behalf of journalists in the public-interest. The original releases, edited for length here, can be found on the CAJ's website http://www.caj.ca.

 

Police practices endanger journalists, association says

January 21, 2004 - The Canadian Association of Journalists condemns the move by Ontario Provincial Police officers posing as journalists in the days leading up to the shooting of native rights activist Dudley George in 1995.

“This is a troublesome tactic by police that threatens the work of legitimate journalists seeking the truth,” said CAJ president Paul Schneidereit.

“When the public doubts the real identity of journalists, vital information dries up and the public interest is undermined.”

Information about police posing as journalists was recently revealed through video tapes obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation under Canadian access to information laws.

Journalists depend on their credibility to build trust in relationships with sources. Police posing as journalists threaten that credibility.

At worst, such tactics could endanger reporters’ safety.  Journalists covering sensitive issues like the Ipperwash case [in which native protester Dudley George was shot to death by police] have reported intense anger from the public, some of whom have come to see journalists as police assistants rather than independent observers.

This isn’t the first time police have used the profession of journalism to further their own investigations. In 2001, the CAJ spoke out against RCMP officers in British Columbia posing as journalists to apprehend an escaped convict hiding in the B.C. Iinterior.

“Police have already been compromising our ability to do our jobs by seizing notes, video and audio tapes that threaten journalistic independence,” Schneidereit said today. “Impersonating journalists is a further attack on both our credibility and safety.”

The journalists’ right to obtain information from confidential sources was upheld today in an Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling by Madam Justice Mary Lou Benotto:

“If the journalist-informant relationship is undermined, society as a whole is affected,” she wrote in her judgment. “It is through confidential sources that matters of great public importance are made known. As corporate and public power increase, the ability of the average citizen to affect his or her world depends upon the information disseminated by the press. To deprive the media of an important tool in the gathering of news would affect society as a whole. The relationship is one that should be fostered.”

CAJ President Paul Schneidereit commented: “When journalists enter into confidential relationships with sources, they do so with great care,” he said. “And when police attempt to force journalists to break those confidences, they undermine the interests of both sources and the public,” he added.  “We’re overjoyed that a court made such a clear statement recognizing that protecting sources protects society at large,” he said.

CAJ Denounces Seizure of Reporters’ Notes.

(OTTAWA)  January 21, 2004 - The Canadian Association of Journalists denounces today’s RCMP raids on the home and office of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O’Neill.  O’Neill was  targeted because of her past reporting on the Maher Arar case (a Canadian citizen who was arrested by United States officials and sent to Syria via Jordan, allegedly with Canadian official  knowledge), which cited information from confidential security sources.

The RCMP conducted the raids under authority granted them by the post-Sept. 11, 2001, Security of Information Act as part of their investigation into a possible information leak in the Arar case.

The RCMP, in conducting the raids under the pretense of national security, are threatening all journalists’ right to obtain information from confidential sources, says CAJ president Paul Schneidereit.  This right, which was reiterated today in an Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling by Madam Justice Benotto, must be ensured for all journalists and the public whom they inform.

Particularly in a story as sensitive and important as Arar’s, where information is often not publicly available, journalists must be able to freely and confidently obtain information from sources whom they can protect. Searches such as the one conducted by the RCMP must not dissuade journalists from obtaining important confidential information in the future.

The Security of Information Act and its broad prohibitions against possession of sensitive government materials threatens journalists’  right, and duty, to thoroughly and truthfully investigate stories related to national security.

“Is this the face of the new Canada?” asks Schneidereit.  “Security yes, but at what price? The legislation seems to have sweeping reach.  If today’s police actions are any example, the consequences for freedom of the press are ominous.” 

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