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Civic Group Files Constitutional Petition to Block Consolidation of Press Rooms

Civic Group Files Constitutional Petition to Block Consolidation of Press Rooms

Posted July. 11, 2007 03:13,   


Despite a constitutional petition filed yesterday against the government’s recent move to consolidate press rooms, the government is not showing any concession from its original position.

“The Lawyer for Citizens,” which filed a petition with the Constitutional Court yesterday, claimed that the government’s “Measure for Advancement of Press Supporting System” was a complete violation of human rights and freedom of speech.

The members of this group including Munhwa Ilbo asked for a constitutional decision on this matter and argued that the government measures are an obvious infringement of the people’s right to know and the mass media’s right to report.

It also pointed out that the Constitution states that only when the cases that are described in the law occur can the curtailment of people’s fundamental right be possible. However, the law doesn’t mention such case.

Four reporters from Munhwa Ilbo, five subscribers of newspapers, and the Munhwa Ilbo Company filed complaints for this petition.

In addition, responding to the Journalists Association of Korea’s refusal against a proposed joint agreement on the “Measure for Advancement of Press Supporting System,” which was made after a broadcast debate between President Roh Moo-hyun and press organizations, the government said, “If the association refuses this proposal by July 12, the measure will be pushed ahead with as planned.”

As for this, Ahn Yeong-bae, deputy chief of the Government Information Agency, said, “If this association refuses to accept the terms to which we have already reached in agreement, we have no choice but to implement our measure without modification.”

In addition, Yun Seung-yong, presidential secretary of public relations, said at a briefing, “The deadline for this agreement is July 12,” adding, “Considering the construction period, we can’t wait any more.”

In fact, after June 17 this year when the debate between President Roh and journalists was broadcasted, the government and four press organizations including the Journalists Association of Korea formed a conference group and had talks four times. The government plans to announce a joint statement with 14 articles including one stating, “the guideline shall be made to help government officials properly respond to reporters’ request, and it is regulated by the instruction of the prime minister.”

However, the Special Committee for Struggle to Secure Improved Environments for Reporting (tentatively named), which belongs to the association, said that it couldn’t accept the demand of the government, and the National Union of Media Workers also announced the same position with the committee.

Meanwhile, the Journalist Association of Korea is opening a steering committee tomorrow to have talks about the terms that were agreed upon between the press organizations and the government.

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