Global advocates for free speech call on governments to address attacks on media

Global rapporteurs on freedom of opinion and expression (L-r): Faith Pansy Tlakula, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, and Catalina Botero, the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, marking the World Press Freedom Day at a UNESCO conference, Tunis, 5 May 2012. Credit: OSCE/Ilia Dohel.

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 25 June 2012 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, and three other international freedom of expression rapporteurs, launched today their annual 2012 Joint Declaration on “Crimes against Freedom of Expression”.

“This year’s Declaration addresses the issue of crimes against free expression and focuses on universal solutions to this modern plague and encourages all governments and other stakeholders to help counter the killings of journalists, as well as the physical attacks and psychological threats they systematically face. Virtually every week I have to intervene in cases where journalists are persecuted for fulfilling their public duty to inform their societies and communities,” said Mijatović at the press conference on the launch of the 14th Joint Declaration.

In the Declaration, Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Catalina Botero, the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression; and Faith Pansy Tlakula, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, together with Mijatović urge the governments to combat impunity for crimes against media freedom and single them out – in law and practice – as particularly serious.

They call for independent, speedy and effective investigations of all incidents involving journalists and provide detailed recommendations on how to improve investigations. This includes strengthening governments’ capacity and allowing the civil society to monitor and document such crimes to ensure the impartiality of the legal procedure. The rapporteurs also stress that victims of these crimes are entitled to redress.

The Declaration was facilitated by two non-governmental organizations, London-based Article 19 and the Centre for Law and Democracy in Canada.

“Addressing violence against journalists as a direct threat to our democracies will help bring attacks on media freedom high on all government’s agenda. We as international media freedom advocates need to support numerous international and local NGOs working to provide safer work conditions for media,” Mijatović said.

Joint Declarations of international freedom of expression by the special rapporteurs have been adopted annually since 1999, covering universal challenges to media freedom and freedom of expression are accessible here.

The 2012 Joint Declaration is accessible in English, Russian, French, Spanish and Arabic here.

Source: OSCE

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