VIENNA, April 03, /ITAR-TASS/. The Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Dunja Mijatovic, urged member states not to obstruct journalists’ work by prohibiting them from crossing the borders.
Based on numerous examples, too many participating States are not honouring their obligations assumed under the Helsinki Final Act to “ease, on a basis of reciprocity, procedures for arranging travel by journalists of the participating States in the country where they are exercising their profession, and to provide progressively greater opportunities for such travel, subject to the observance of regulations relating to the existence of areas closed for security reasons”, Mijatovic said in a statement on Thursday, April 3.
The participating states also affirmed that “the legitimate pursuit of their professional activity will neither render journalists liable to expulsion nor otherwise penalise them”, she said.
“While respecting the sovereign right of participating states to control their borders, I have serious concerns about undue limitations on such travel which affects the free flow of information and free media,” the representative said.
Mijatovic said she was particularly worried by the current situation related to the crisis in Ukraine. “On several occasions I have addressed Ukrainian authorities and I also called on those responsible in Crimea to stop this unacceptable practice. Once again I call on all those responsible to consider their relevant policies and instructions and to stop using media and journalists for advancing their political agendas. They, instead, should facilitate the work of journalists from other countries and abstain from creating administrative obstacles to the entry,” she said.
The OSCE representative stressed that the media played a vital role during the times of crisis and it could also play a positive role by obtaining information, improving the understanding of the situation between nations and preventing further escalation of tensions. “By arbitrary denying entry to journalists, governments are obstructing free media and the exchange of information,” she said.
Mijatovic urged the participating states “to fulfil their OSCE commitments and refrain from any steps to restrict the free flow of information. In addition, journalists negatively affected by denials of entry should be given the opportunity to appeal”.