PEN International og Europarådet med felles uttalelse om ytringsfrihet

World Press Freedom Day
Council of Europe and PEN International joint Statement

Council of Europe and PEN International call for stronger protection of freedom of expression

Strasbourg/London, 02.05.2011

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, and the President of PEN International, John Ralston Saul, today made the following joint statement to mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May.  They added that they are making this joint statement to express their concern over the growing threats to freedom of expression.

«Journalists and writers across the world are imprisoned and silenced every year for saying or writing things that did not please those in power. Now we are witnessing the imprisonment of bloggers, citizen journalists, web-activists – even simple Internet users, for legitimately exercising their right to freedom of expression.

It has never been easier to exercise our rights to expression and information, but it has also never been easier to interfere with them.

When freedom of expression cannot be exercised fully by media professionals or by writers, the freedom of each of us, of every citizen, is endangered. Our rights to receive information and to freely form and to hold views and opinions are limited. Our right to informed participation is eroded. Ultimately, democracy is compromised.

Freedom of speech is one of the essential pillars of a genuine democracy, it requires extraordinary protection. This is enshrined in Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

We urge all governments, civil society actors, technical communities and the private sector to work together to protect freedom of expression in our common interest» Mr. Jagland and Mr. Saul said. «The Council of Europe and PEN International, drawing on our respective strengths, are currently looking at ways that we can cooperate to this end.»

Statement by John Ralston Saul

September 9, 2010

In response to the threatened burning of copies of the Koran in the United States on September 11, 2010, the president of International PEN, John Ralston Saul, has issued the following statement:

There is only one religion of book burning. Whatever the book—a text from any religion, a novel, a philosophical treatise, a poem—those who cast it into the flames stand arm-in-arm with Goebbels on a square in Berlin worshipping at the altar of hatred. Such hatred can always invoke as justification some earlier offence, real or imagined. The specific acts of individuals are then distended into a revengeful condemnation of whole cultures or religions or peoples.

PEN stands for unlimited freedom of expression. But we also believe in restraint, not as self-censorship but as the expression of that true complexity of human relationships which great literature invokes. We pledge to do our utmost to «dispel race, class and national hatreds.» And the burning of books is a profoundly contemptuous display of hatred.

We believe that the destiny of literature is to bring people together. The broad condemnation by Americans and people around the world of the threat to burn religious books is a reminder that the role of freedom of expression is not to divide, but to unite people.