Media freedom is a crucial pillar of democracy and the cornerstone for building societies that enjoy civil rights and fundamental freedoms. Worryingly, its very existence is under threat, not just in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but in countries across the globe. The UK and OSCE share this focus, and already play active roles in supporting and promoting those freedoms.
May 3, World Press Freedom Day, reminds us of our collective responsibility to protect freedom of the media and to ensure that journalists can continue to work honestly and openly, in an atmosphere free of fear and intimidation. Democracy cannot survive without this, and in order to secure it, we must all do more.
This year’s theme “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation,” describes the current challenges faced by the media during election periods. Here in BiH we regularly witness biased or imbalanced media reporting, especially during election years, as well as coverage which spreads divisive rhetoric among communities across the country.
Instead, journalists should be able to provide objective and reliable information so that citizens can make informed decisions and hold their elected representatives accountable for their actions. Only in that way can peace and democracy be truly safeguarded.
The OSCE Mission to BiH works closely with the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media to address all media freedom threats in the country and urges the authorities to fully implement the OSCE Ministerial Decision on Safety of Journalists, which calls the Participating States to take effective measures to end impunity for crimes committed against journalists.
Recognising the deteriorating situation facing journalists around the world, the UK Foreign Secretary has appointed renowned human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to be a Special Envoy on Media Freedom. On 10-11 July, the UK Government will host in London a global conference on Freedom of Media, also bringing together journalists, politicians and civil society to agree how to protect journalists and the very lifeblood of democracy.
On this day and any other day, we must also not forget the harsh reality of the daily threats and attacks against journalists in BiH and around the world. We pay tribute to those journalists who work tirelessly in pursuit of truth, often at risk to their own safety and in some cases their lives. Their determination and courage is an inspiration to us all.
The time is now – let’s free the press!
Happy World Press Freedom Day.