From: Alice Taylor
OSCE Launches Guide to Protect Female Journalists Online

Yesterday, the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media launched a new resource designed to ensure the safety of female journalists online.

The Resource guide will provide state and non-state actors across the OSCE region to take action in improving the digital safety of women journalists. It includes suggestions for stakeholder groups which include executive and legislative branches of government, the judiciary, law enforcement, intergovernmental organisations, media outlets, journalist organisations, civil society, and self-regulatory bodies, as well as journalists themselves. 

“When it comes to the online safety of female journalists, there remains an implementation gap. The Resource Guide is an important tool to provide all stakeholders with guidance for concrete actions that need to be taken – and how to implement them,” said Jürgen Heissel, Director of the Office of the OSCE RFoM, during the launch event today.

The author of the Guide, Silvia Chocarro, Head of Protection of Journalists at ARTICLE 19, said that: “Online harassment and abuse against women journalists are not part of the job. Everyone has a role to play in combating it, and States have an obligation to address it.” Hanna Stjärne, Chief Executive Officer at Sweden’s national broadcaster, stated that they handle on average 35 security issues every day, all year round, including harassment, acts of violence, and threats. “Threats against journalists are a threat against democracy and freedom of speech – the pillars of our society,” said Stjärne.

The project was launched on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. There are at least 22 cases in Europe where journalists have been murdered and justice has not been served. These include Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, Jan Kuciak in Slovakia, and Viktoria Marinova in Bulgaria. Many others have been attacked, assaulted, harassed, and threatened and have not had justice either, despite reporting the crimes.

The Council of Europe released a statement yesterday, reinforcing the importance that journalists have in society.

“The key role of journalists and other media actors in unveiling wrongdoing, corruption, crime and abuse of power exposes them to intimidation, threats, harassment and violence, abusive litigation, sometimes to arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and in extreme cases to torture and killings.

Attacks against journalists and other media actors constitute particularly serious violations of human rights because they target not only the concerned individuals but deprive others of their right to receive information, thus undermining public debate, which is at the heart of pluralist democracy. All forms of attacks on journalists and other media actors therefore constitute attacks on democracy itself.”

They reminded member states that they have a political and legal o9bligation to fulfil their obligations under European Human Rights law.

UNESCO also noted that the vast majority of crimes against journalists go unresolved.

Just last week, an Albanian journalist Elidon Ndreka was targeted by a bomb that went off outside his home in Lezhe. In 2018, journalist Klodiana Lala’s home was attacked by machine-gun fire- the perpetrators have still not been brought to justice. Here you can read a non-exhaustive list of attacks on journalists and media workers in Albania.

Exit contacted an Albanian government spokesperson regarding the OSCE Resource Guide, asking how they plan to implement its suggestions and recommendations. No response was received at the time of publication.