Index on Censorship is disappointed that Canada’s Supreme Court has upheld a decision by lower courts that requires a journalist with VICE Media to hand over materials related to communications with a journalistic source. A coalition of 12 press freedom and civil liberties groups from around the world, including Index, intervened in the case.
The journalist, Ben Mackuch, wrote articles based on interviews with a suspected terrorist, which led to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police requiring him to hand over all communications with the suspect.
The case raised important issues related to the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. The coalition argued that the protection of confidential journalistic material from compelled disclosure is a fundamental condition of freedom of the press. Without it the watchdog role journalists play in a democratic society is undermined, as sources risk being deterred from sharing information of public interest with members of the press.
Jodie Ginsberg, Index on Censorship CEO, said “The Supreme Court of Canada should have given greater weight to protection of journalistic sources, because it is essential for protecting press freedom. This is a disappointing outcome, which sends the wrong signal to other countries.”