Media freedom must be ensured while combatting terrorism, say participants of OSCE workshop in Bucharest
BUCHAREST, 7 October 2015 – The media and counter-terrorism officials have a shared responsibility to work together to protect media freedom while developing effective policies to counter terrorism, said participants at the start of a two-day workshop organized in Bucharest today by the OSCE with the support of the Romanian Foreign Ministry.
The workshop brings together some 97 experts and practitioners from governments, civil society and the media, as well as international and regional organizations to raise awareness and promote the exchange of information about the challenges of and opportunities in co-operation between OSCE governments, the media and civil society in countering the appeal of terrorism, while understanding their roles and interests.
Daniel Ioniţă, State Secretary for Strategic Affairs at Romania’s Foreign Ministry, said that expectations are high for the international community, including the OSCE, to deliver responses to counter terrorism in its multiple, cross-dimensional aspects, while at the same time respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“The right of every individual to benefiting of freedom of expression lies at the very heart of the OSCE concept of comprehensive security,” said Ioniţă. “When discussing comprehensive approaches to counter terrorism, the involvement and support of other stakeholders, including of a free and independent media is very important.”
Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, said that the fight against terrorism will be effective only if we safeguard our fundamental freedoms.
“There is no security without free media and free expression, and there is no free expression and free media without security,” she said. “These two terms should fit hand in glove, not fight each other like we see in so many parts of the world. And there is no better place to discuss and fight for both of these matters than in the OSCE.”
Alexey Lyzhenkov, Director of the OSCE Transnational Threats Department, acknowledged the enormous potential of the media as a counter-terrorism resource. He said that while the precise and rapid dissemination of information to the public in the event of a terrorist attack can save lives, sensationalist reporting can play into the hands of terrorists.
“Communication between the media and counter-terrorism officials is often restricted by lack of co-operation and transparency, stemming from a number of legitimate concerns from each side as well as a mutual lack of understanding of their respective goals and responsibilities,” he said. “How to build and maintain mutual trust and understanding of the respective goals and responsibilities of such a diverse group is at the core of the recommendations we hope to get from each of the four sessions.”
The workshop will contribute to the development of general guidelines, standards and recommendations related to countering terrorism and the role of the media. It will also elaborate on options for further OSCE involvement in promoting public-private partnership initiatives with the media and civil society organizations in countering terrorism at the national and sub-regional levels.