French President vows to defend press freedom, accuracy

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday vowed to continue to defend press freedom and journalists throughout the world but he also promised he would seek legislation in France to combat so-called “fake news.” Speaking to the press at the annual New Year’s Greetings ceremony at the Elysee Palace, Macron lamented the deaths of 65 journalists in 2017 and also the detention of over 200 others who were trying to do their jobs.

The French leader stressed that he had advocated and fully supported the creation of a special UN representative to help protect journalists on the job and that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres had acceded to the request and the UN representative should be appointed “during the first semester” of 2018.

The appointment of a Deputy Secretary-General for the protection of journalists has been a long-standing demand of journalists’ unions and press bodies.

Macron noted that he personally broaches the issue of press freedom with world leaders he meets and that he had personally intervened to secure the release of two French press professionals who had been detained in Turkey.

He said would continue “to dialogue with those who don’t agree with us” on this question.

The President also vowed to combat “fake news” and the propagation of false rumours and information in the media, including on the Internet.

He indicated that he has called for legislation to combat “fake news” and a law should be adopted “before the end of the year.” He further remarked that dissemination of false information and rumours in the form of “fake news” was particularly harmful to democracies which need “strong legislation” to protect them from this phenomenon, especially during elections.

Source: Kuwait News Agency