More, not less media freedom needed to combat terrorism, says OSCE media freedom representative

VIENNA, 9 September 2011 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, today commemorated the victims of terrorism worldwide on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States and reaffirmed the importance of free media in fighting terrorism.

Addressing a conference in Vienna on “Nine eleven and Europe: 10 years of security policy versus freedom of expression”, Mijatovic said: “While emphasizing the legitimate need to fight terrorism, we must also remember that there is no security without free media and free expression and no free expression and free media without security. These two principles should go hand in glove and not compete with each other.”

Since 2001, many OSCE participating States have adopted new laws to expand the powers of governments to fight terrorism and protect national security, Mijatovic said: “Most of these revisions have made principles of free expression an afterthought.”

“Rather than being a tool to assist terrorists in achieving their goals, free media itself is essential to fighting the threat. The media can help save lives by spreading information of public interest. It can show the true face of terrorism in investigative reports. It can raise awareness of the danger of terrorism and of efforts to combat it. Finally, it can counter the very objective of terrorists: to destroy societies’ basic human rights, including the right to free expression.”

International media experts spoke at the conference, including the first OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Freimut Duve. They examined the consequences of the 9/11 attacks and the threat of worldwide terrorism on information societies and, particularly, how new security policies affect media freedom.

The conference, under the patronage of Austrian President Heinz Fischer, was organized by Mijatovic’s Office in co-operation with Reporters without Borders Austria, Press Club Concordia and Medienhaus Wien.

Source: OSCE