WASHINGTON--An international panel on human rights today passed a resolution by U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D- MD) aimed at strengthening press freedoms and protection for investigative journalists across the 56-country OSCE region.
The measure calls for countries to repeal criminal defamation laws, increase the free flow of information, and actively investigate and vigorously prosecute those responsible for threats against or physical attacks on journalists.
“A free media is critical to any democratic society. This is why authoritarian regimes so often target reporters for harsh reprisals,” said Cardin, Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission). “This resolution will further push countries to change their laws and actions that restrict freedom of expression, ban Internet sites, and force reporters into silence through physical intimidation and imprisonment.”
Passed on the third day of the meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) in Oslo, Norway, the resolution will now be considered for inclusion in the Assembly’s final document to be known as the Oslo Declaration. Parliamentarians from the 56 participating OSCE countries will vote for the declaration on Saturday, which will help set policy for the OSCE in the year ahead.
The resolution supports Chairman Cardin’s and the OSCE’s ongoing efforts to guarantee the safety of investigative journalists and to draw attention to threats seen recently against free media in the OSCE region. Sixteen journalists have been murdered in 2010 in the region. Last year 136 journalists were incarcerated.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.