Media Contact: Lale Mamaux
(Washington, DC) Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), will hold a hearing on Thursday, August 2, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. in room 340 Cannon House Office Building. The hearing, entitled “Freedom of the Media in the OSCE Region,” will focus on trends regarding freedom of the media in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) participating States, including developments in Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. Although press freedom remains an essential ingredient for healthy, functioning democracy, journalists continue to face significant challenges in their work in numerous OSCE countries, such as murder, abduction, beatings, threats or even acts of intimidation. In many other cases, restrictions may be more subtle, and include a variety of tools ranging from censorship and lawsuits to restrictions on access to paper and ink.
On June 22, 2007, Congressman Hastings and Senator Cardin sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, raising concerns about efforts to limit media freedom in Russia. In addition, Congressman Hastings, Senator Cardin, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ) sent a letter to President Bush on the eve of the June 2007 summit in Kennebunkport, Maine, calling on him to raise the issue of media freedom with President Putin. The crackdown on independent journalists in Azerbaijan has also drawn repeated criticism from the OSCE’s Representative on Freedom of the Media who was cited in H.Con.Res.183, introduced by Congressman Hastings on July 12, 2007.
Hearing Witnesses Include:
Ms. Fatima Tlisova – A Russian journalist residing in the United States since March 2007, Ms. Tlisova was subjected to violent physical attacks and intimidation as a result of her reportage from the conflict-torn North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation.
Ms. Nina Ognianova, Program Coordinator, Europe and Central Asia Programs,
Committee to Protect Journalists
Ms. Paula Schriefer, Director of Advocacy, Freedom House
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.