An open letter to Harlem Désir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
20 Jul 2017

Dear Mr. Désir

Index on Censorship welcomes your appointment as the Representative on Freedom of the Media by the OSCE member states. We would like to extend our congratulations to you.

Like you, we agree wholeheartedly that the role of RFoM is important. In fact it is more important today than when the office was founded 1997. Since then, the media has faced pressures from a changing financial environment and — in some nations — government interference.

Through its project Mapping Media Freedom, Index on Censorship monitors press freedom violations in 42 OSCE member states. In just the last three years, there have been 3,302 verified incidents. Sadly, the number of reports we investigate is increasing. Journalists are coming under pressure from the left and the right of the political spectrum, from governments and non-state actors, from organised crime and private citizens. These multidimensional threats demand a consistent and robust response that crosses international boundaries.

We ask that, on assuming your responsibilities, you urgently consider the following as your priorities:

  • Focusing attention on how the independence of the public media in OSCE member states such as Poland and Hungary is being undermined
  • Calling attention to a continent-wide drift toward tighter regulation of the media — whether online or off — in OSCE nations such as France, the UK and Germany
  • Raising awareness of widespread interference with the professional duties of journalists through legal obstacles and demands for accreditation, most acutely in OSCE members Belarus, Russia and Azerbaijan
  • Building on the record of the RFOM office by being a vocal and visible advocate for journalists
  • Continuing a determined and consistent approach to cases of impunity
  • Resisting ill-guided attempts to use legislation to further curtail the marketplace of ideas in the member states
  • Call out use of terror legislation to silence media by member states
  • Mount a sustained campaign against criminal defamation laws in member states

Index on Censorship stands ready to partner with you to protect the media’s right to report and the public’s right to information.

Mapping Media Freedom

Click on the bubbles to view reports or double-click to zoom in on specific regions. The full site can be accessed at https://mappingmediafreedom.org/

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