LONDON, Jan. 18, Reuter: Media publishers and editors from 39 countries agreed today to create a fund to challenge censorship in court and to set up a hot line to help journalists subjected to harassment.

The agreement was reached at the end of a two-day meeting in London which discussed ways of combating press censorship around the world and of helping those in jail or in trouble because of their reporting.

The conference, the first of its kind devoted entirely to problems of censorship, was sponsored by the World Press Freedom Committee, which groups 32 news organizations in five continents.

Participants backed a final declaration condemning what it called the growing use of force by governments and criminal forces seeking to intimidate the news media.

“In a world that is becoming increasingly one through new communications technologies, press freedom is indivisible”, it said.

“When censorship applies anywhere, it restricts access of the public everywhere to full knowledge of events. We intend by this meeting to help create an atmosphere in which censorship is recognized what it is a denial of human rights”.

The document, called the declaration of London, said borders should be open to foreign journalists to travel freely in each country and have access to official and unofficial news sources.

The resolution called for the “creation of a fund against sensor ship’ to support legal challenges to censorship measures and to other abuses of press freedom”.

It said a censorship hot line should be established as a clearing house for complaints by journalists subjected to direct or indirect censorship.

“This contact mechanism should be used by them in seeking assistance and advice, and would help in focusing international publicity on the abuses to which they have been subjected,” it said.

Delegates pledged to keep up the fight against censors by compiling lists of governments that muzzled the press.

The declaration supported the idea of sending fact-finding missions to countries with strict press regulations and said the first of these would try to visit South Africa.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 23, 1987