MOSCOW, October 23 (RIA Novosti), Daria Chernyshova - In Canada, the criticism of poor government transparency is even louder than in the United States, a Senior Press Freedom Adviser with the International Press Institute (IPI) told RIA Novosti Thursday.
“We see some of those trends in Canada, where criticism of a lack of government transparency is often even louder than in the United States,” Steven Ellis said commenting on recent reports of deteriorating media freedom in the Western hemisphere.
According to a recent report prepared by the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), “freedom of the press and of expression in the hemisphere underwent a marked deterioration in the last six months due to a significant increase in direct and indirect censorship and physical attacks on journalists." The IAPA also notes that the Obama administration “is continuing to prohibit officials from talking to the press.”
“In recent years, IPI and other press freedom defenders have decried the Obama administration’s crackdown on whistleblowers, Justice Department actions aimed at breaching journalist/source confidentiality, Congress’ failure to pass a shield law protecting that confidentiality, and proposals to severely curb officials’ exchanges with reporters,” Ellis told RIA Novosti.
He stressed that these developments proceed under the pretext of protecting national security.
“Add to that multiple instances of law enforcement officers detaining or using force against journalists trying to cover protests – such as those this year in Missouri and the Occupy protests in 2011 – and state-level efforts to carve out exceptions to freedom of information laws and criminalize reporting on certain subjects, and we see a number of troubling trends,” Ellis said.
He noted that the most disturbing is not only what is happening, but where it is happening.
“The United States and Canada have some of the strongest traditions, and protections, of free expression and media freedom. If trends like these are allowed to take root in those countries, it lowers the bar for the rest of the world,” Ellis told RIA Novosti.