Section 40 Repeal Cannot Come Soon Enough For International Press Freedom Organisations

Global press freedom campaigning organisations including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, English PEN, and Global Witness have signed a statement welcoming the repeal of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act.  

In a joint statement published ahead of a Lords debate tomorrow on the Media Bill, which contains provisions to repeal Section 40 the group said the UK’s next government must “give a firm and unequivocal commitment” to press freedom.  

The statement said: “We are a group of UK-based and international organisations representing news media titles, journalists, and campaigning groups in the UK and territories right across the world.

“We welcome the UK government’s commitment to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act via provisions in the Media Bill and urge Parliamentarians to pass this crucial piece of legislation as quickly as possible.

“Repealing Section 40 will go a long way towards strengthening the UK’s reputation as a global champion for freedom of speech.

“Repressive regimes will be sent a clear message that the UK stands squarely behind freedom of speech. Freedom of speech with no strings attached.

“That message is critically important in the uncertain and dangerous world we all now live in.

“Leading democracies such as the UK must be seen to take a stand.

“The UK faces a general election, most likely in the second half of this year. One of the first acts of the next government must be to give a firm and unequivocal commitment to press freedom.

“Journalists face a myriad of threats and challenges but their mission of holding power to account and reporting difficult or uncomfortable truths has never been more important.

“Attempting to force titles into state-backed regulation, which is what Section 40 was designed to do, is incompatible with the principles of free speech. Never again must the UK go down this dangerous road.

“For all of us, the stakes are far too high.”

  • Committee to Protect Journalists
  • CPU Media Trust
  • English PEN
  • Foreign Press Association
  • Global Witness
  • News Media Association
  • News Media Europe
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Society of Editors