OSCE Rep: all sides in B&H and in Serbia, media in particular, to refrain from inflammatory language

VIENNA, 23 September 2016 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović called today on all responsible stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia, in particular the media, to refrain from inflammatory language that could incite hatred.

“Media have a code of ethics to respect and follow, and the consequences of not abiding by these fundamental principles can be devastating,” Mijatović said and reminded of the events in the beginning of the 1990s in former Yugoslavia.

“My firm belief is that propaganda is an abuse of freedom of the media and ultimately destroys it.”

In recent days, media outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia have published a number of articles referring to the threat of a new armed conflict in and around Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Based on the reporting on this issue in the last two weeks, I urge all stakeholders in the countries concerned, media outlets in particular, to avoid using any language which could lead to the escalation of the situation,” Mijatović said.

The Representative noted recent appeals for restraint from both the Communications Regulatory Agency and the Press Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media has an early warning function and provides rapid response to serious non-compliance with regard to free media and freedom of expression, as spelled out in her mandate. In the Helsinki Final Act (1975) the participating States committed themselves to refrain from propaganda for war and hatred and of aggression against each other.

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* - References to Kosovo are without prejudice to positions on status. They are in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244/99 and the opinion by the International Court of Justice on the Kosovo declaration of independence.