For Immediate Release www.csce.gov
May 1, 2015
HELSINKI COMMISSION CALLS FOR RELEASE OF IMPRISONED JOURNALISTS IN OSCE REGIONAlso Notes Deterioration of Press Freedom, Journalist Safety in Many OSCE Participating States
WASHINGTON—In advance of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), chairman of the Helsinki Commission, issued the following statement:
“On World Press Freedom Day, I pay tribute to the courage and commitment of the many journalists in the OSCE region and beyond who risk their lives on a daily basis to document stories of corruption, conflict, and human rights abuses.
“In several OSCE participating States, governments use increasingly sophisticated tactics to threaten and discourage professional journalism. In the worst cases, journalists are being jailed in failed attempts to stifle political dissent. This is unacceptable behavior for nations committed to the fundamental freedoms and human rights described in the Helsinki Final Act, and I call on all OSCE participating States, particularly Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan, to release those journalists who remain imprisoned.
“Unfortunately, journalists in the OSCE region also face other daily threats to their lives, especially those members of the media who report from conflict zones. More than 200 attacks on journalists have been reported as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict alone; some of those brave journalists have paid the ultimate price.
“I am proud that the OSCE continues to lead the way with initiatives focused on journalist safety in the field, ending impunity, and improving media safety online, and I especially commend the work of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic. However, much remains to be done to advance the safety of journalists in our region and around the world.”
On May 5, Chairman Smith plans to introduce the World Press Freedom Protection Act of 2015 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation would authorize the President to deny entry visas to individuals who have credibly threatened press freedom; restrict some U.S. activities of executives of state-owned media organizations from countries where American journalists are threatened or harassed; and urge the U.S. Government to include press freedoms and Internet freedom as part of international treaty negotiations and trade agreements.
Media Contact: Stacy Hope