OSCE representative releases report on media freedom in Ukraine, calls for respect of journalist's rights ahead of presidential elections
VIENNA, 23 May 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today presented a new report produced by her office which shows a rapid and alarming deterioration of media freedom situation in Ukraine.
“My office has observed, monitored and reported on the events that have taken place in Ukraine since November last year and I am alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating conditions and climate for the media,” Mijatović said. “The conflicting sides, the OSCE participating States and the international community have to take action now and reverse this trend. If actions are not urgently taken, the consequences will be too grave to even imagine.”
“Journalists must be able to do their reporting in a free and safe manner. With the early presidential election on 25 May in mind I call on the law enforcement agencies to offer all possible support and protection to the members of the media”, Mijatović said.
The 14-page report covers the period from 28 November last year to 23 May and refers to over 300 cases of violence against members of the media, including murder, physical assaults, kidnappings, detentions, imprisonments, threats, and acts of intimidation against journalists. It also lists a number of cases where journalists’ equipment has been confiscated and destroyed.
”The on-going attacks on journalists are nothing short of gross and severe violations of fundamental human rights. Journalists are deliberately targeted for doing their job, trying to tell the outside world of the events that is taking place in Ukraine”, Mijatović said.
Mijatović’s report also includes a number of cases of repeated and illegal switching off of television broadcasts. In many cases, especially in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian television channels have been switched off and replaced with state channels originating from the Russian Federation. Further, the report addresses the difficulties of properly addressing the issue of propaganda in times of conflict.
“The current crisis in Ukraine shows all too well that the first casualty in times of conflict is truth. The manipulation of the media and the information war we are experiencing has to stop. Failure to do so will fuel the conflict and contribute to an escalation of the crisis”, Mijatović said.
“As the media freedom representative of a security organization it is my responsibility to warn the OSCE participating States of the severity of the media freedom situation in Ukraine. It will have serious repercussions on the human rights situation in the country unless substantial international efforts are initiated to reverse this trend”, Mijatović said.
The full report on the media freedom situation in Ukraine is available at: https://www.osce.org/fom/118990
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom>, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on facebook.com/osce.rfom.