Greatest challenge facing journalists and other media actors remains safety - OSCE
Greatest challenge, the journalists and other media actors are facing today remains safety, as Harlem Désir, OSCE Media Freedom Representative, tolds in his report Permanent Council in Vienna on July 4, as to OSCE website. He called called on participating States to implement the Ministerial Council Decision on Safety of Journalists. “In the last seven months, I made over 240 interventions in 41 OSCE participating States. It is appalling that two journalists, Vadym Komarov and Lyra Mckee, were killed, and that there were a further 92 attacks and threats, including one bombing, three shootings, and seven arson attacks against journalists ” said Désir.“Journalists are targets but it is freedom of opinion and the right of citizens to be informed that are attacked. Fundamentally, what is under assault is the role of the media in democracy.” The Representative also highlighted the number of imprisoned journalists in the OSCE region, noting: “I raised 121 individual cases of detention and imprisonment of journalists and media workers. This is an alarming situation, which has to be urgently addressed. No journalist should be imprisoned because of their reporting, investigation or critical opinion.” “I will continue to work relentlessly for the release of all concerned journalists across the OSCE region,” said Désir, recalling the OSCE Ministerial Council Decision on Safety of Journalists, which urges “the immediate and unconditional release of all journalists who have been arbitrarily arrested or detained, taken hostage or who have become victims of enforced disappearance.” Challenges to online freedom of expression and digital technologies were also raised in the Representative’s report. “Freedom of expression requires a digital infrastructure that is robust, universal and accessible to all. Participating States should not disrupt or shut down internet or telecommunications networks,” stated Désir. “Social media companies have responsibilities in the fight against unlawful content and hate speech, but we cannot put them in charge of deleting or blocking unpleasant content in general and in control of our fundamental human rights. We need laws that tackle illegal content but preserve freedom of expression, and stronger international cooperation to ensure inter-operability and efficiency in Internet regulation” he added. "All actors, States, internet companies and civil society must be included in this co-operation". The Representative concluded by reiterating the need to end impunity for attacks against journalists, and that the OSCE, with its comprehensive security approach, is crucial for finding solutions that protect human rights and provide security.
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