Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, at a special debate on freedom of expression and respect for religious beliefs that took place at the winter session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, in Vienna 24 February 2006. (OSCE/Mikhail Evstafiev)
VIENNA, 30 May 2006 - Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, has announced that his Office will produce a database of classification rules, sanctions for disseminating unauthorised information, protection of sources and other laws affecting accessibility of information by the media in the OSCE region.
The aim of the project is to enhance the protection that States offer to journalists who report about issues of public interest.
"In a period when global terrorism remains a major concern, demands for improved national security are legitimate. But governments also need to continue to observe the citizens' right to know," said Haraszti. "The media has come under increased pressure when serving society's need for news."
He asked the 55 OSCE participating States to share details of their relevant legislation and practice. Based on them, the Office would produce guidelines and recommendations.
"Security should be strengthened without weakening investigative journalism. Punishing the media for obtaining confidential information or for not revealing its sources will erode its ability to uncover corruption and report wrongdoings," he added.
"A knowledgeable and informed public is the goal of the responsible press. It is also a precondition for the fulfilment of our Organization's noble commitment to provide human security in freedom."
The database will be the Office's second comprehensive review of media legislation after the database on criminal and civil defamation laws and court practices. Since it was released in 2005, the Republic of Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have abolished imprisonment as a sanction for defamation. Five other countries are currently discussing the decriminalization reform.