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International group set up to monitor surveillance

The International Federation of Journalists has voted for an NUJ motion to set up working group on surveillance.

As reported by the National Union of Journalists: The group would raise awareness and build a culture among journalists to secure their information and communications; defend journalists’ fundamental human rights against intrusive governments' surveillance programmes; attempt to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the use of intercept powers; campaign to defend every case where journalists’ ability to protect journalistic sources is attacked and challenge bulk collection of telephonic materials; and work with other professions such as lawyers, medics and social workers to build coordinated global movement to rein in the unchecked surveillance powers that governments have misused over citizens.

The motion noted that "the widespread use of smartphones, emails and social media over the last decade has given the intelligence agencies access to private data on a scale few would have imagined possible" and it applauded the work of Edward Snowden who had "unravelled the most extensive global surveillance operation ever seen".

More than 300 delegates representing journalists unions across the world gathered in Angers, France for the 29th World Congress of the International Federation of Journalists. They marched through the city to commemorate journalists killed in the exercise of their profession and laid a white rose in front of the commemorative plaque for Camille Lepage, who was killed in 2014 in the Central African Republic. The 26-year-old journalist had been travelling near the border with Cameroon when she became caught up in fighting. The circumstances of her death remain uninvestigated.

Jim Boumelha, out-going president, said: "The death of a journalist such as Camille is utterly painful. It is an injustice. The killing of journalists doesn't only affect journalists, media and unions. It is a concern for society as a whole."

A member of the NUJ's national executive, Jim Boumelha, stepped down as president of the IFJ after nine years (there is a three-term limit) and was elected as honorary treasurer.

Philippe Leruth, member of the Belgian Association Générale des Journalistes Professionnels de Belgique was elected as president. He was vice-president of the European Federation of Journalists and is a journalist at the daily newspaper L’Aveni. Younes M’Jahed, of Morocco, was elected as senior vice-president.