Fight for freedom of expression, fight for our democracies

In her video message for the Final conference of SEE Media Observatory, held 13 - 14 June 2016, Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, shared her concerns about the trends in the region. 
Media freedom situation in the region is gloomy, she said, indicating that the times has changed during her OSCE mandate. 
In 2010, when she took on the position of Media Freedom Representative, she recalls the numerous challenges to media freedom, on many fronts, including pressures on journalists, compromised editorial independence, questionable internet regulations or increase of media concentration at the background of the financial crisis. However, there was "an atmosphere of optimism, trust, even hope and high expectations", she adds.  
Today, this has changed tremendously and dramatically, she stressed. "We are living in more dangerous times. Recent terrorist attacks, new lines of conflict are fundamentally altering and challenging the way we think about our basic human rights, such as free expression and right to privacy", she noted, adding that he space for civil society and media freedom in the region is shrinking extremely, with the harassment, restrictions and negative labeling of media and civil society. Mijatović mentioned cases of attacks and imprisonments of journalists, closing down media outlets, retrograde legislation or confiscated equipment, lack of implementation of media legislation, widespread cases of libel and defamation, lack of editorial and financial freedom of public service broadcasters, compromised independence of media regulators, incomplete digital switch-over, as some of the markers of the recent trends in the region. 
Sudden dismissal of the editorial staff at public broadcasters RTV Vojvodina, in Serbia, announced suspension of all programming at BHRT, state-level public broadcaster in BiH, or recent state pressure on HRT, public service broadcaster in Croatia, are some of the examples that raise concerns about the independence and survival of public service media. 
Widespread trend of increased surveillance in Europe, misuse of security laws to take down online content and imprison critical journalists on fabricated charges of terrorism, or systematic online harassment and threats against female journalists, seen all over OSCE are also some of the issues addressed in the speech.
Addressing these challenges requires political maturity and courage. 
Mijatović gave thanks to the media specialist participating at the conference, for their courageous work and dedication to free expression and fee media. Your continued determination is our key to achieving societies where media freedom can only flourish, she said. Government need to act and reverse these trends. However, the fault lies not only in legislation and the government, but in all segments of society, including media professionals and NGOs. "You must also assume responsibility in the fight for our democracies", she concluded.  


Media Policy and Reforms
Public Service Media