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Commission Applauds Appointment of OSCE Media Watchdog

WASHINGTON -—U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) today welcomed the appointment of Dunja Mijatovic as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media.

“We applaud the leadership Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev has shown as Chair-in-Office to fill this critical international media watchdog position on a timely basis following the commendable service of the outgoing representative, Miklos Haraszti,” Chairman Cardin said.

Ms. Mijatovic comes to the position from a long tenure as Director of Broadcasting at the Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which Haraszti has publicly called a “model” media regulatory structure.

“Dunja Mijatovic has a proven record of standing up to political pressure in order to maintain the independence and integrity of not only her self-financing agency, but of the domestic broadcast media as a whole,” Co-Chairman Hastings said. “Having published extensively on media regulation and freedom of expression issues, she brings theoretical and practical experience to this important job while also adding a welcome gender- and regional balance to the OSCE’s senior ranks.”

From violent threats and attacks on independent journalists to laws banning internet sites and criminalizing libel, significant work remains in many OSCE participating States to live up to international commitments related to press freedoms.

“We urge Ms. Mijatovic, a professional journalist herself, to continue the practice of speaking out publicly on behalf of beleaguered journalists and pressing governments to bring their laws and practices in line with their OSCE commitments,” Hastings said. “We remain deeply concerned over the murder of journalists and the pattern of impunity in these cases, vividly illustrated by the recent release of the killer of independent Ingush publisher Magomed Yevloyev, among the more than fifty journalists slain in the Russian Federation.”

“We look forward to working with Ms. Mijatovic to strengthen press freedom in the OSCE region.” Cardin said. “The jailing of bloggers for satire in Azerbaijan, the blocking of thousands of Web sites like YouTube in Turkey, and the imposition of fines for defamation that effectively shut down opposition presses in Kazakhstan and elsewhere, all serve to remind us of the work that remains to get all countries to live up to their commitments.”

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