Statement at the Warsaw human dimension conference on safety of journalists

As delivered by Policy Director for Human Rights and Democracy, Vebjørn Heines, Warsaw, 4 October 2023.

Thank you, Moderator,

Safeguarding freedom of expression and freedom of the press is at the heart of Norway’s foreign policy.

Journalists find themselves in dangerous situations when doing their job to report independently, shed light on atrocities, and expose violations of human rights.

This important eyewitness role makes journalists and media workers targeted in conflict situations.

Although journalists operating in areas of armed conflict are protected as civilians under international humanitarian law, they are attacked for what they have witnessed and reported on, and for the leverage and global attention their capture may provide.

Across the OSCE region, the growing threat to the safety of journalists and media workers is felt more than ever. Cases of harassment and intimidation continue to be high. And journalists and media workers continue to be subjected to acts of violence. There is further an alarming rise of incidents of unreasonable restrictions on media accreditation and restrictions to Internet access. And this morning, we have also heard about risks and examples of political forces trying to take over independent media.

The safety of female journalists and media workers is a particular concern. They are vulnerable to harassment and violence. Online attacks have a chilling effect on women’s participation in the media, and in society. It is important to address the gender dimension of measures to ensure their safety.

Impunity is the greatest obstacle to ensuring the safety of journalists. Every act of violence that goes uninvestigated and unpunished is an open invitation for further violence.

We call on all participating States, to take the necessary steps to implement our OSCE commitments on media freedom, and safety of journalists.

By addressing impunity and ensuring the safety of journalists, we are safeguarding one of the main cornerstones of the OSCE’s vision of comprehensive security - a free and open society, accountable systems of government and the safeguard of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In closing, like other members of the informal OSCE Group of Friends on Safety of Journalists, we hope to see many of you this afternoon in the side event “Persecution of Journalists in Exile”.

Thank you.