Keeping the Safety of Journalists High on the OSCE Agenda:
Informal OSCE Group of Friends on Safety of Journalists Side Event
at the Hofburg, Vienna, Austria
April 12, 2019
At the side event on “Turning Words into Deeds: Implementation of OSCE Commitments on the Safety of Journalists,” the informal OSCE Group of Friends on Safety of Journalists discussed how the OSCE Ministerial Decision on the Safety of Journalists can bring practical benefit for journalists under attack.
The side event took place on the margins of the international conference on “Journalists Under Attack: A Threat to Media Freedom,” which was organized by the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media on 12 April 2019 in Vienna, Austria. The side event concentrated on the implementation of the 2018 OSCE Ministerial Council Decision on the Safety of Journalists.
An expert panel presented perspectives from the journalistic community and included: Mr. Dainius Radzevičius, Chair of the Lithuanian Journalists Union, and Ms. Britta Hilpert, Head of ZDF Studio Vienna/Southeast Europe. Ms. Barbara Trionfi, Executive Director of the International Press Institute, Vienna, moderated the discussion.
Ambassador Aurimas Taurantas, Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the International Organizations in Vienna and Co-Chair of the informal OSCE Group of Friends on Safety of Journalists in his opening remarks stressed “The adoption of the OSCE Ministerial Council Decision on the Safety of Journalists was a crucial achievement, and now it is time to focus on its implementation so that journalists could feel real benefits of this Decision.”
Mr. Dainius Radzevičius concentrated on the importance of ensuring the rights of journalists to information and noted “Recommendations from international organizations and good practices from different states reveal a simple truth – strong and independent journalism can bring real knowledge to the public, whereas strict regulation of the media and public information creates additional problems and even threatens the freedoms and rights of journalists.”
Ms. Britta Hilpert highlighted two critical elements that need to be improved: economic pressure and the lack of appreciation for investigative journalism: “A problem of broader scope is the economic pressure on journalists by owners of media outlets who are close to the political power center; to be able to work truly independently, journalists need a broader economic base. Also, a better appreciation for journalistic investigation and analysis is needed in a world where information seems to be available for free.”
Ms. Barbara Trionfi emphasized: “Across the OSCE region, journalists are attacked on a daily basis, challenging their ability to disseminate independent news. I cannot overstate the importance of raising awareness about and identifying solutions to this serious problem, and commend the work of the informal OSCE Group of Friends on Safety of Journalists towards this.”
The informal OSCE Group of Friends on Safety of Journalists, created in 2018, aims to keep the topic of the Safety of Journalists – in its broad understanding – high on the OSCE agenda. The informal OSCE Group of Friends on Safety of Journalists, co-chaired by France, Lithuania and Sweden, gathers 16 OSCE delegations: Austria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.