Istanbul, 3 May 2011 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, marked World Press Freedom Day today by urging all 56 OSCE participating States to do more to curb violence against journalists and ensure a safe work environment for the media.
“Today, as the world honours the free press that on a daily basis helps us to improve our democracies and pursue our development goals, I call on all OSCE states to take broad measures to ensure the most favourable and safe environment for their media,” Mijatovic said in an address to the Freedom for Journalists Congress in Istanbul.
“Murders, violent attacks, intimidation of journalists and their family members, various forms of harassment and criminalization of speech thwart the work of free media serving their audiences.”
The Representative emphasized that journalists are killed in the OSCE region every year and that dozens suffer from attacks aimed at preventing them from reporting. Even more face administrative barriers and lawsuits which obstruct critical investigative reporting.
“Many crimes against journalists remain unpunished. I call on all governments of the OSCE area to regard offences and harassment against the media as direct threats to democracy. I urge them to condemn and investigate these acts with the utmost vigour,” Mijatovic said.
“Anna Politkovskaya, Georgiy Gongadze, Paul Khlebnikov, Elmar Huseynov, Yury Shchekochikhin, Slavko Curuvija, Georgi Stoev and many other courageous journalists lost their lives for revealing inconvenient truths. We still do not know who ordered their killings,” she said. “Reminding the respective governments of their duty to conclude the investigations of these horrid crimes is my primary obligation.”
“Nothing is known still about the fates of cameraman Dmitry Zavadsky, who has been missing for more than a decade, or journalist Vasyl Klymentyev, who disappeared in 2010,” Mijatovic added.
She also recalled that Eynulla Fatullaev, Ramazan Yesergepov, Dilmurod Saiid, Irina Khalip, Nedim Sener, Solijon Abdurahmanov and other prominent journalists remain in custody or await trials in retaliation for their critical writing.
Mijatovic stressed that strict government regulation of media and criminalizing speech leads to harassment of journalists, can provoke violence and stigmatizes the entire profession.
A special OSCE event addressing journalists’ safety will bring together leading media representatives and government officials to tackle these issues in Vilnius on 7 and 8 June 2011. The OSCE Representative has dedicated 2011 to the safety of journalists and media freedom, which are priority issues of the Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship.