Monday, November 8, 2010

Iceland and the press freedom

In 2008 Iceland suffered a finance crisis that collapsed most backs and the national currency and completely destroyed the country’s economy. By means of some legal stratagems, Icelandic banks could hide their bankruptcy for 4 months to avoid taking urgent measures, but it only made things even worse. Fortunately, a local television filtered some information to the web page Wikileaks so that everybody could be aware of it.
Iceland has always been reputed to be one of the best countries in the world in terms of freedom of speech. Now, the Icelandic government wishes to become an international haven for freedom of the press. Some members of the Icelandic Parliament from all represented parties are interested in Wikileaks’ proposal to introduce a new legislative regime to protect freedom of the press and pass a law including all good legislative practices from every country. The core of the matter is that there are many countries with good laws, but no country has all of them… so far.
With this new legislation, called IMMI (Icelandic Modern Media Initiative), Iceland wants to favour research journalism and freedom of the press so that newspapers, televisions and web sites get based on the island. The adopted new legal measures include legal protection of information sources, protection for public workers who would be allowed to break their duty of silence in cases of extreme public interest, and tools to fight against the so-called libel tourism, in which plaintiffs choose to file libel suits in jurisdictions thought more likely to give a favourable result. Iceland-based media could appeal against these suits, regardless of the country of origin.
Many journalist associations have already issued a very positive assessment on these measures. For instance, the Spanish Federation of Journalist Trade Unions (FeSP) stated that it is the most significant step ever in the defence of the freedom of speech.

  1. Wikileaks:
  2. Icelandic Modern Media Initiative:
  3. Article about the new law proposal in Iceland:
  4. About libel tourism:


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