Deteriorating journalists’ safety situation and impunity continue to plague media freedom in the OSCE region, OSCE Representative says
VIENNA, 1 December 2016 – Attacks on journalists and impunity for crimes committed against journalists continue to plague media freedom in the OSCE region, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović told the Permanent Council today when she presented her latest semi-annual report on media freedom developments in the OSCE region over the past six months.
“As the attacks on journalists – and journalism – continue to escalate, the safety of journalists continues to dominate my agenda,” Mijatović said. ”Impunity for killings, attacks and threats unfortunately prevails in many parts of the OSCE region - this is a trend we need to reverse immediately.”
Since March this year, the Representative’s Office intervened on media freedom issues in 35 participating States. The vast majority of these interventions dealt with the issue of journalist’s safety, including killings of members of the media, physical attacks and property damage.
In order to assist the participating States in monitoring progress on fighting impunity for the killings of journalists, the Representative said her Office has prepared a table listing journalists killed in the OSCE region since 1992 with some basic information on the progress of the investigations, prosecutions and convictions of those responsible.
“All OSCE participating States will be asked shortly to update or correct information in this list, which my Office will make public on our website in the beginning of next year,” Mijatović said. “I hope that the completed list will be valuable resource for government and law enforcement officials, journalists and academics and NGOs involved in this critical issue.”
In her presentation at the Permanent Council, the Representative also addressed the issue of fake news and the phenomena of “post-truth”, especially in social media,
“Imposing regulations or making social media companies delete postings on social media platforms that are perceived as lies, is not the right way to address this issue. In fact, doing so may just cause greater harm to free expression than any lie, no matter how damaging,” Mijatović said.
The Representative also pointed to the growing trend in the OSCE region of authorities using criminal and administrative prosecution for social media activities that involve responding to existing content.
“These repressive actions contribute to an environment of fear among social media users, including members of the media,” Mijatović said, pointing to her recent Communique addressing the issue (www.osce.org/fom/283586). She suggested that social media activities should be addressed through self-regulation, education and literacy, not through new restrictions.
The report to the Permanent Council, including the Representative’s remarks, is available at www.osce.org/fom/285506.
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 www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.