Media freedom is still under threat in many member countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE. That is the assessment of Ambassador to the U.S. Mission of the OSCE Ian Kelly.
The United States’ greatest concern, he said, remains incidents of violence and intimidation against journalists within the OSCE region. A case in point is Gadzhimurad Kamalov, the editor-in-chief of Dagestan’s investigative newsweekly Chernovik, who was killed on December 15th outside his newspaper’s offices. In Montenegro, investigative journalist Olivera Lakic of Podgorica daily Vijesti was attacked earlier this month.
The United States believes that Internet freedom is a fundamental media freedom that must be protected. Yet there are instances of governments taking actions inconsistent with their OSCE commitments. Tajikistan temporarily blocked access to Facebook and continues to block access to four independent news sites. Kazakhstan has blocked blogging platforms LiveJournal and LiveInternet, as well as Internet-based TV broadcaster StanTV, and routinely blocks websites critical of government authorities. Kyrgyzstan continues to block access to Central Asian affairs website Fergana.ru. The U.S. urges these governments to lift these restrictions.
In Belarus, the U.S. is concerned about the ongoing harassment of independent journalists and bloggers by authorities, such as the case of independent television cameraman Ales Barazenka. In Kazakhstan authorities released from prison Vzglyad editor-in-chief Igor Vinyavskiy. But his arrest is indicative of a persistent pattern of legal harassment of independent media in Kazakhstan.
The United States urges all OSCE members to live up to their commitments to fully protect media freedom in all its forms, and to take stronger action to protect journalists for their attackers.