Filmmaker Charged for Talking with Prisoner

Published: Mon 7 Nov 2005 10:01 AM
Filmmaker Charged for Talking with Prisoner
SYDNEY (MEAA/IFEX/Pacific Media Watch): Australia's media union has called on the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions and the Director General of the state's Corrective Services Department to drop the charges levelled at highly respected journalist and filmmaker Anne Delaney.
Earlier this year Delaney was charged with conducting an illegal interview with a Queensland prisoner under a potentially unconstitutional section of the Queensland Corrective Services Act.
The law prohibits anyone from interviewing or photographing prisoners without permission.
"In terms of the bigger picture, any law that allows a senior public service bureaucrat to stop public scrutiny of prisons is dangerously undemocratic and should be repealed," said Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance federal secretary, Christopher Warren.
The case against Ms Delaney is highly contentious. At the time of her apprehension she was visiting a prisoner to establish whether there were grounds for a film on a possible miscarriage of justice. During the visit she did not conduct a formal interview. There was no notebook, pen or tape recorder.
The Alliance knows of at least two other journalists who have been found guilty of an offence under this section the Act.
"Journalists shrouded in the constant threat of repressive laws such as this cannot do their jobs effectively. They cannot question, investigate or reveal information in the public interest. And that is a death sentence for democracy," said Warren.
"Queensland's recent history highlights that responsible journalism is a vital weapon against systemic corruption. The Fitzgerald Inquiry proved that.
"The Alliance calls on the Queensland Government to repeal this section 100 of the Queensland Corrective Services Act that gags journalists and restricts free speech."
* The Media Alliance represents more than 10,000 media workers across Australia.

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