World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Protest Campaign - Switzerland, 5 September 2013

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Protest Campaign - Switzerland, 5 September 2013

Article ID:

16874

Parquet général du Canton de Neuchâtel
For the attention of Mr. Pierre Aubert
Prosecutor General
Case postale 2672
Rue du Pommier 3
CH-2000 Neuchâtel

Fax: + 41 32 889 62 51

5 September 2013

 

Mr. Prosecutor General,

We are writing on behalf of the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA), the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), and the World Editors Forum to express concern at recent actions directed by the office of Prosecutor Nicolas Aubert against award-winning Le Matin journalist, Ludovic Rocchi.

Reports confirm that Mr. Rocchi’s private residence was searched in the early hours of 13 August, with police confiscating computer equipment and notebooks. Mr. Rocchi’s wife, who was present during the raid, was reportedly questioned about her husband’s professional activities. Following legal advice from his newspaper, Mr. Rocchi’s computer was officially sealed before he surrendered it later the same morning to investigators who had called at the hotel where he was staying on assignment.

Mr. Rocchi has been instrumental in exposing suspected plagiarism at the University of Neuchâtel. His investigations, published by Le Matin newspaper, led to an official inquiry into practices at the institution. We are deeply concerned that the seizure of his files and computer equipment threatens the protection of journalistic sources and thus jeopardises press freedom in Switzerland.

We are equally disturbed to learn that Prosecutor Aubert felt such a heavy-handed police response warranted for an investigation of this nature. Only in extreme cases, when serious crimes have been committed and where indisputable evidence requires it, should the seizure of journalistic materials be considered.

By Mr. Aubert’s own declaration such conclusive evidence was not available ahead of this unprecedented search and seizure, meaning the actions were carried out based on suspicion alone; the accusations of defamation, slander and violation of official secrecy facing Mr. Rocchi can in no way be interpreted as constituting justification for such recourse. Instead, the action sets an extremely dangerous precedent for future legal interference in the work of the press.

We respectfully urge you to consider the implications the decision to pursue Ludovic Rocchi in this manner has on the freedom of the press in Switzerland. The independence of journalists and the protection of their sources are essential to their work and, if compromised, risk silencing investigative journalism and encouraging self-censorship. The repercussions for democracy, transparency and accountability are greatly disturbing.

 

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Ivar Rusdal
President
European News Publishers’ Association

 

Tomas Brunegård
President
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

 

Erik Bjerager
President
World Editors Forum

 


ENPA, based in Brussels, represents over 5,200 national, regional and local newspaper titles, published in 23 European Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland. More than 150 million newspapers are sold and read by over 300 million Europeans every day, in addition to the millions of unique daily visits to online newspapers websites.

WAN-IFRA is the global organisation for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organisation groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.

 


cc: M. Nicolas Aubert, Procureur, Parquet régional de La Chaux-de-Fonds
Conseil de la magistrature du Canton de Neuchâtel, Mme Geneviève Calpini Calame, Présidente Tribunal régional du Littoral et du Val-de-Travers

 

Author

Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop

Date

2013-09-05 11:03

Contact information

In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...