Journalists all around the world are urged to reclaim their role in the discourse about terrorism and refuse to remain side-lined by the rhetoric of national security in the post 9/11 world.
The call was made at the opening of the Anti-Terror laws Conference organised by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the Federation of European Journalists (EFJ).
Legislation enacted in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks as part of the war on terror has had a chilling effect on journalism in many countries allowing governments to evade public scrutiny, the conference was told.
"The role of media as democracy watchdog has been chipped away even in advanced democracies," said IFJ President, Jim Boumelha in his opening remarks.
"Restrictions of press freedom have been introduced under the cloak of national security."
The conference was told that anti-terror laws have empowered governments' law enforcement agencies to conduct surveillance on journalists.
In Sri Lanka, journalist SJ Tissainayagam was sentenced to 20 years with RI under anti-terror laws.
He was later pardoned by the president following protests by rights watchdogs. Since then he left the country.
IFJ, that represents over 600,000 jouranalists in 131 countries says the post September 11 media environment "has limited journalists' ability to report independently on issues related to terrorism."
"There has been unwillingness to report on the governments' policies out of fear of being on the wrong side," said Arne König, EFJ President.
Human rights organisations have urged governments to be true to the core values of respect for rule of law and fundamental human rights while addressing terrorism.
"The language of war on terror has made easier for governments to introduce measures which repress media freedom and fundamental rights," said Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"The anti-terror legislation after 9/11 has undermined journalistic integrity and discouraged critical voices."
In Sri Lanka, long-standing emergency laws expired last week, two years after Sri Lanka's decades-long war against Tamil Tiger rebels.
But the rights watchdogs have accused Sri Lanka of maintaining "draconian" anti-terror legislation which gives it similar powers.
- BBC Sandeshaya