Attacks on journalists must stop, say journalists’ unions at meeting with OSCE representative
VIENNA, 19 May 2014 – Senior representatives from the Russian Union of Journalists, Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine, and the National Union of the Journalists of Ukraine met in Vienna today to discuss ways to improve journalists’ professional standards and safety in Ukraine. The unions met under the auspices of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.
Representative Dunja Mijatović opened the meeting by highlighting the need for journalists also to show solidarity and publicly condemn all attacks on members of the media.
“I am reacting to attacks on media in Ukraine almost every day. Since November my office has noted almost 300 cases of attacks, including physical assaults, kidnappings, threats and damage and confiscation of equipment. Law enforcement authorities have completely failed to protect the journalists and none of these attacks were ever investigated. This is simply unacceptable,” Mijatović said.
“We demand that the authorities and armed people do not view journalists as participants in the conflict. We are on the side of the truth, on the side of our profession, on the side of our audience. We are sure that consultations among the organizations of Ukraine and Russia contribute to our solidarity and strengthen the possibility of assisting our colleagues,” said Sergey Tomilenko, Acting Chairman of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.
Nadezhda Azhgikhina, Executive Secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, said: “This meeting is an important step in improving our co-operation which we started a long time ago and have continued even during recent tough times.”
At the conclusion of the meeting the participants signed a memorandum on practical steps to improve the safety of journalists and also called for the governments to stop manipulating the media and engaging in propaganda. Representatives of the European Federation of Journalists, the International Press Institute and Reporters without Borders also participated in the meeting.
“I am pleased that we set out our joint statement with steps to promote professional, ethical standards and build solidarity,” Azhgikhina said. “I am optimistic that we will manage to protect our professional values together.”
Later Monday Mijatović briefed an informal meeting of OSCE participating States on the media freedom situation in Ukraine.
“We are clearly witnessing an information war in the regions of Ukraine affected by conflict,” Mijatović told the participating States. “As I already have said on several occasions, if the situation is not reversed it could contribute to the further escalation of the conflict.”
Having met on 19 May 2014 at the Office of the OSCE Representative in Vienna, representatives of the Russian and Ukrainian media organizations have adopted a Memorandum on the situation in and around Ukraine.
For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/fom/118691
Gunnar Vrang, Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
office: +43 1 51436 6602
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