European Federation of Journalists

Harlem Désir: “States must support the media financially struggling because of the pandemic”

Picture credit: OSCE.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes today’s statement from the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, on 3 May. He called on the 57 OSCE participating States to “let journalists do their job unhindered, ensure them access to information and support those media that are financially struggling because of the pandemic.”

“As the world finds itself in the midst of a global pandemic, the necessity of a free media is even more vital and more crucial than ever.(…) Yet, we have seen many States responding to this crisis with measures that are restricting media freedom and limiting the ability of journalists to report on the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“I fully understand the will of the authorities to combat false information, such as about false cures. However, this cannot be achieved by limiting media freedom. Rumours are best tackled by ensuring access to pluralistic and independent sources of information, rather than through censorship. What we need is more transparency, more responsibility and more journalists being free to report, not more restrictions,” added Harlem Désir.

“We hope that Mr Désir’s appeal will be heard by the OSCE participating States,” reacted the EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez. “Governments must take action urgently. Our sector needs emergency recovery packages to protect the jobs of journalists and media workers, to support companies and to fund public service media through this crisis. States must consider the media sector as a vital one. Journalism can save lives. The media sector needs governments to provide vital support by taking extraordinary measures.”

The video message by the Representative can be found here.