Linas Linkevičius urged the international community to strengthen its efforts in ensuring safety of journalists
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Linas Linkevičius, opened the international conference “Safety of Journalists – New Challenges and Responses” in Vilnius on 3 July 2017 where the current situation of the safety of journalists in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) region, the most urgent challenges in journalists’ activities and possible international responses were discussed.
The debate that gathered outstanding Lithuanian and foreign media experts, journalists, diplomats, politicians, representatives of an academic community and civil society focused on new challenges in journalists’ work such as propaganda, dissemination of hatred in internet media, restrictions of social media, protection of information sources, working in conflict zones, safety of female journalists, etc.
“The media currently faces various challenges, for example, there are attempts to turn it into a weapon. Earlier they used artillery in war, they use “brainwashing” now, which is very effective and actively used in conflicts,” Linas Linkevičius said.
Minister also noted that journalists experience violence, prosecution and political pressure; they are illegally detained or even murdered. As many as 74 journalists were killed worldwide due to their professional activities last year.
The conference also reviewed the implementation of Vilnius Recommendations on Safety of Journalists endorsed during the Lithuanian Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2011. Proposals heard during the conference debates will be reflected in a new edition the OSCE Guidebook on Safety of Journalists, with the aim to assist the OSCE participating States in ensuring safe working conditions for journalists.
Conference guests were welcomed by Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson, Minister of Culture; Dainius Radzevičius, Chairman of the Lithuanian Journalists Union; Ambassador Christian Strohal, Special Representative of the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office; Frane Maroevic, Director of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Ambassador Sian MacLeod, Head of the United Kingdom Delegation to the OSCE in Vienna and Chair of the OSCE Human Dimension Committee.
The speakers of the conference were Ricardo Gutierrez, General Secretary of the European Federation of Journalists; Ruslan Deynychenko, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the “StopFake” Project in Ukraine; Maxim Trudolyubov, Editor-at-Large at “Vedomosti” and columnist at “The International New York Times”; Katie Morris, Head of Europe and Central Asia programme of the international NGO “Article 19”; Barbara Trionfi, Executive Director of the International Press Institute; William Horsley, International Director of the Centre for Freedom of the Media at the University of Sheffield (UK), Author of the OSCE Guidebook on Safety of Journalists; Aistė Žilinskienė, President of the Internet Media Association of Lithuania; and Marius Lukošiūnas, UNESCO Programme Specialist of the Section for Freedom of Expression.
Safety of journalists is given particular attention in Lithuania. It is thanks to Lithuania’s efforts that in 2015 the United Nations Security Council adopted the Resolution on Protection of Journalists in Conflicts. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organises visits of media representatives to conflict zones and holds specialised training on specificity of work during conflicts.
The conference was held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lithuanian Journalists Union and Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
At the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2017 of OSCE participating states in Warsaw on 21 September, Lithuania together with its international partners convened a meeting, entitled ‘LGBTI persons outside the Law in Chechnya (Russia). What should be the international community’s reaction?’ The side event focused on recent hate crimes committed against LGBTI persons in Chechnya.
At the informal ministerial meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe that opened in the Austrian town of Mauerbach on 11 July 2017 Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Neris Germanas, drew attention to the deadlock in the negotiations on the Russian aggression against Ukraine and called on the OSCE to continue prioritising them in the OSCE agenda.