Warsaw Human Dimension Conference 2023
Plenary Session II
Written statement by Justice for Journalists Foundation
This statement addresses media freedom, independence of the media, and freedom of expression in some of the OSCE countries of operation of Justice for Journalists Foundation. Justice for Journalists Foundation is a London-based charity whose mission is to fight impunity for attacks against media.
We monitor attacks against media outlets and workers, conduct media security trainings and fund investigations worldwide into violence and abuse against professional and citizen journalists. Among other incidents, our Media Risk Map includes detentions and arrests of media workers in the post-Soviet space. Currently, according to the data collected by JFJ and its local partner organisations, there are 4 detained media professionals in Kazakhstan, of which 2 are political prisoners, 34 detained with 32 political prisoners in Belarus, 1 political prisoner in Turkmenistan, 7 detained with 4 political prisoners in Azerbaijan, 12 in Tajikistan, 7 in Uzbekistan, 1 in Kyrgyzstan and 15 Crimean journalists – all political prisoners (they are serving time in the Russian labour camps except one) and 35 detained journalists (apart from the Crimean) and at least 16 political prisoners in Russia.
For example, in Tajikistan, out of 12 journalists currently in jail, 8 were convicted in 2022 and 2 are serving long sentences of up to 16 years. In Turkmenistan, Nurgeldy Khalykov has been serving a four-year sentence since September 2020.
JFJ calls on the authorities of the mentioned countries to release the imprisoned journalists and bring their laws and practices into compliance with international commitments. We encourage the OSCE participating states to increase their efforts in protecting democratic institutions and media freedom by decriminalising independent journalism and allowing the expression of alternative viewpoints.