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news 20 Sep 13

Balkan Media Freedom Declining, OSCE Warns

The OSCE media representative told a meeting in Tirana that media freedom in the Balkans was in decline, undermining the future of democracy in the region.

BIRN
Belgrade

Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, said that media freedom in South East Europe was deteriorating.

“Many problems are not being addressed, many questions not answered. Public broadcasters are not yet fully reformed; the independence of the regulators is endangered or not guaranteed; digitalization of electronic media is behind schedule, putting media pluralism at risk; and the safety of journalists is threatened,” Mijatovic told a media conference in Tirana, Albania, on Friday.

Dunjatovic added that if the situation did not improve, the future of freedom and democracy could be at stake.

The safety of journalists was an especially pressing problem, she added. “Violence, harassment and intimidation against journalists are an attack on democracy itself,” she said.

More than 180 journalists, representatives of civil society and government and academics from the region met in Tirana to discuss the importance of media freedom and related issues.  

They concluded that the Internet needed to remain a completely open public forum for free speech and expression, and that the authorities ought to refrain from over-regulation and blocking online content or websites.

They also called on regional governments to guarantee in law the right of free access to information, in line with OSCE standards, which also meant putting in place mechanisms for effective oversight and appeals by independent bodies.

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