Statement by Asia Journalist Association on Press Arbitration Act



Seoul, Aug. 23: Asia Journalist Association (AJA) defines the revision of the Press Arbitration Act, which is being discussed in Korea, as a serious violation of freedom of speech, and will launch a practical solidarity to protect freedom of speech.

In our democratic country, the Republic of Korea, press freedom is the most valuable achievement supported by the law of state and the will of the people. The media can deliver the truth to the public and function as a window for communication. Therefore, every attempt to deprive a nation of freedom of speech is nothing more than an act of trampling on democracy.

The Asia Journalist Association has paid tribute to Korea, which has achieved both industrialization and democratization since its independence in 1945. With its diversity in the media and remarkable development of new media, Korea has been a role model for Asian countries.

Asian media have noted that Korea has served as a hub for the development of free press and journalism by hosting the World Journalists Conference (WJC) every year since the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Seoul General Assembly in 2001 and the Special General Assembly of Seoul and Mount Kumgang in 2007.

However, attempts have recently been made in South Korea to push ahead with the Press Arbitration Act centered on the ruling party. This is anachronistic and ill conceived. AJA cannot help expressing deep regret and concern over such situations in Korea.

In particular, AJA cannot help but feel sorry that journalists, who were respected for their competence and character, are leading the legal process after being elected to the National Assembly through the 2020 general election. We hope these journalists-turned-lawmakers will regain their initial motivation as journalists, withdraw from the gag on the press, and contribute to the development of freedom of speech and journalism.

The Asia Journalist Association states we will join forces with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and others against any pressure and interference that restricts freedom of speech.

The Asia Journalist Association firmly believes that democracy will eventually prevail and freedom of speech will be protected from any persecution and pressure. We at AJA will spare no effort to defend it.

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