OSCE Representative issues recommendations on rights and safety of members of the media reporting on refugees

VIENNA, 4 March 2016 – The challenging refugee situation in Europe also has implications for freedom of the media, not least with regard to the rights and safety of members of the media reporting on this important issue, Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said today.

“There have been a number of cases where journalists reporting on the refugee situation in Europe have been threatened and obstructed by law enforcement agencies,” Mijatović said. “It is imperative that members of the media are able to report freely and safely on issues of public interest.”

The arrival of high numbers of refugees in several participating States has had a significant impact on the principles and policies of democratic societies including border management, immigration and refugees’ policies, social assistance, prevention of crime, protection of privacy, and protection of minors, among many others.

“Any intervention by public officials in these areas should not interfere with the work of members of the media,” Mijatović said.

In a communiqué issued today, the Representative recommended the OSCE participating States to:

  • Instruct immigration and other law enforcement agencies to respect the right of members of the media to report on issues of public interest and to ensure their safety.
  • Facilitate journalists’ access to areas and locations where stories related to the crisis develop: border areas, refugee camps and other relevant facilities.
  • Allow journalists to interview or have contact with refugees in order to report on personal stories and current living conditions.
  • Respect and promote media self-regulatory mechanisms in order to avoid the stereotyping of refugees.

The Representative’s communiqué on the rights and safety of journalists reporting on refugees is available at www.osce.org/fom/225896.