OSCE media freedom representative welcomes move to improve transparency of court proceedings in Russia
ISTANBUL, 13 December 2012 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, welcomed today a resolution adopted by the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, saying it could help improve the transparency of the judiciary and strengthen the watchdog function of the media.
According to the resolution “On openness of court proceedings and access to information on activities of courts”, obstructing the lawful work of journalists by refusing them access to courtrooms on any grounds other than the limited number of exceptions specifically mentioned in the law, including on the grounds that they are not accredited, is unacceptable.
“I welcome this initiative of the Supreme Court, which represents yet another important step in ensuring access to court proceedings and strengthening investigative reporting," said Mijatović, referring to a similar resolution by the Supreme Economic Court of the Russian Federation adopted a month ago (http://www.osce.org/fom/96934).
"This is an extremely important move by the Supreme Court as for the first time, the principle of openness of court proceedings for the media was recognized to such an extent that any violation may lead to a court judgement being overturned on appeal.”
Mijatović spoke from Istanbul where she is taking part in a master class on online media regulation organized by her Office.
In the resolution the Supreme Court similarly acknowledges that journalists, like all citizens, have the right to report online, take notes and make audio recordings during court sessions. Only when they wish to make video recordings, take photographs or broadcast live online or via radio or television will they be required to secure the authorization of the presiding judge. In addition, banning such recordings would be possible only for the protection of fundamental human rights. Any restrictions for the media must be legitimate and recorded in the court minutes.
“I am also pleased that the director of my Office was invited to provide his legal opinion on the draft resolution and was subsequently invited to participate in the plenary meeting of the Supreme Court that adopted the resolution,” added Mijatović.