Dunja Mijatovic reminds about failures to investigate into deaths of Gongadze, Sheremet

Дата: 22 September 2016
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OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović has recalled at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Forum (HDIM2016) in Warsaw that safety of journalists is currently the principal topic. Journalists keep dying because of their professional activities. In particular, Dunja Mijatovic reminded about the deaths of Ukrainian journalists Georgiy Gongadze and Pavel Sheremet and other uninvestigated crimes against journalists.

The Human Rights Information Centre correspondent reports this from Warsaw.

The deaths of journalists in the OSCE region. Does the number matter? It does not matter what the number is. January 7, 2015, eight journalists were killed in Paris because of caricatures, and it showed us the scale of the problem. We cannot consider only the OSCE region as the problem is much broader,” Mijatovic said.

She reminded about the threats that lie in the use of anti-terrorism laws or laws that are aimed at ceasing the criticism of the authorities under the pretext of national security.

The situation can be changed if the authorities stop to consider the state as a battlefield with the media. However, the governments of state refuse to cooperate with us in this matter. Currently, my department records more than 50 physical attacks on journalists. The majority of these attacks are not investigated, many criminals are still at large.

In two weeks we will mark the anniversary of murder of Anna Politkovskaya. It is a reminder to all of us. We all also remember the murder of Georgiy Gongadze… No proper investigation has been conducted into any of these cases,” Mijatovic said.

Mijatovic also mentioned about restriction on freedom of expression against bloggers and women journalists.

Last year I was concerned about the messages how many bloggers and women journalists were attacked due to their work in social networks and the media. Many bloggers and journalists were forced into self-censorship. This is evidence of the psychological pressure, which can make bloggers stop writing online and cover important news,” Mijatovic noted.

She recalled that she had already warned of the dangerous consequences of introduction of the laws against terrorism and extremism for journalists. These laws should not operate at the expense of freedom of speech and human rights. We should not live in such a society, if security is provided at such a cost, she added.

The situation has not improved. Our own security has become one of the threats in the OSCE region, as well as in other countries. Not a week passes without my intervention in matters of security and legislation,” Mijatovic said.

Dunja Mijatovic also commented on the situation with freedom of speech in Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Serbia:

Russia. Impunity remains. More than 30 crimes against journalists remain without investigation on part of the authorities.”

Death of Pavel Sheremet and the incident with website Myrotvorets were also mentioned at the OSCE conference.

Ukraine. Pavel Sheremet was killed. This reminds us of the problem. This summer, the personal information of more than 4,000 journalists was published on website Myrotvorets. Journalists need protection. This summer I again received assurances from the Ukrainian authorities that the rights of journalists will be protected and that the right of the authorities to restrict freedom of speech will be limited,” Mijatović says.

She also paid attention to the issue of propaganda.

According to her, “the propaganda, which has become our daily reality, destroys the profession of journalist. The impact of propaganda in Bosnia and Herzegovina led to horrific consequences. Everything that happens in Ukraine shows that we have not learned from our mistakes. The threat of propaganda becomes a pretext, used by the state.”

Mijatovic stated that the situation in the field of media freedom and freedom of expression had not changed in comparison with the previous year. She called on the authorities to honestly assess the situation in their own countries and to stop talking there was no such problem.

I’m surprised. I have no explanation for such situations as murder, restriction of freedom of speech, intimidation, bad legislation…” Mijatovic summed up.

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