February 6 rally at Toronto courthouse in support of VICE journalist Ben Makuch

TORONTO, Feb. 7, 2017 /CNW/ - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), together with a coalition of media, labour and non-governmental organizations, held a rally in support of VICE News reporter Ben Makuch as he appeared in court on February 6, 2017, making a principled stand to protect press freedom. The rally took place outside the Toronto courthouse in which he was appearing.

Rally: Support Ben Makuch in court to #ProtectPressFreedom
When: Monday, February 6, 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. (EST)
Where: Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen St W, Toronto, ON

Makuch was challenging an RCMP production order for chat logs between himself and a suspected ISIS fighter. Last year, an Ontario court ruled in favour of the RCMP, and Makuch filed an appeal. A coalition of civil liberties, labour and media organizations, including CJFE, are participating as interveners in the appeal to speak out with caution about the precedent-setting nature of the case. February 6, 2017, marked the final court date in this process before a final decision is reached by the court. This case will set a precedent in Canadian law for press freedom, journalistic independence and the protection of confidential sources.

"Ben Makuch is making a brave stand in support of press freedom, and we are standing with him," said Tom Henheffer, CJFE Executive Director. "Journalists are not a law enforcement arm for the government and to be treated as such by the judiciary is a massive threat to their independence. If police can make demands for journalists' notes, then sources won't talk, and public interest stories like Makuch's won't be told in the first place, leaving the public in the dark."

Makuch's case is only one instance among a series of recent press freedom violations in Canada. CJFE is also calling on the Canadian government to support Private Member's Bill S-231 which would create a federal press shield law and strengthen protection for advocates, whistleblowers and journalists.

The rally on February 6, 2017, was part of CJFE's #ProtectPressFreedom campaign. More information on the campaign and its related actions can be found at protectpressfreedom.ca

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, CJFE promotes a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others' free expression rights. 

SOURCE Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

For further information: For media inquiries or more information, contact: Chris Ball, Head of Communications, VICE Media Canada, 416-737-9559, chris.ball@vice.com; Tom Henheffer, Executive Director, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), 647-992-4630, thenheffer@cjfe.org


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