On 23 September 2014, MLI lawyers brought intofocus propaganda by media and hate speech in the context of current conflict inUkraine at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) – Europe’slargest annual human rights and democracy conference held in Warsaw.
First and foremost, the Media Law Instituterepresentative intervened at the morning plenary session devoted to the freedomof expression with participation of Dunja MIJATOVIĆ,the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. In the relevant statement the role of Russian mediainfuelling the conflict in Ukraine was pointed out –exemplified by the propaganda of war, incitement to national, racial orreligious hatred, and hostility or violence. Such media activity was called asone posing a serious threat to the freedom of speech because the watchdogs ofdemocracy seem transforming into the barking dogs of the authoritarian regime.
In this regard, MLI urged the mediacommunity and the respective international organisations to publicly and openlycondemn the propaganda widely practised by the Russian media representativesand to adequately respond to it, including denial or cancellation of membershipin the professional journalist or media associations of those media workers whoare deliberately violating professional and FoE standards. Full text of the MLIStatement can be found here.
Furthermore, the Media Law Instituteteamed up with the Freedom House in holding a Side Event with a view to specificallyreflect on detecting and counteracting modern propaganda. Organised in adiscussion format, this event brought together over 50 representatives of theOSCE States` delegations and national regulators, civic activists andjournalists, media lawyers, and delegates from Canada, Sweden and the United States.
The working environment for journalists in thecontext of crisis in Ukraine was outlined by our colleague Oksana ROMANIUK fromthe Institute of Mass Information, with special focus on Crimea and EasternUkraine.
Some legal assessment of misinformation on Ukraine was provided by MLIlawyers Igor ROZKLADAJ and Tetiana SEMILETKO and the relevant internationalframework referred to. Illustratingthe incitement to national hatred and propagandaof war and violence mainly in the Russian state or state-controlled media, itwas stressed that Ukraine applies those remedies that are deemed the leastrestrictive measures in terms of international standards.
Particular stress was put on the need forfeasible responses to reports by journalists that manifestly violate professional standards or even produce false ormanipulative materials.Here, some successful experience of civicinitiatives have been shared as to detection and refuting fakes, namely by Eugen FEDCHENKO from the Stop Fake.
Among other remedies to propaganda, a need for the public servicebroadcaster swift reform was highlighted by Dunja MIJATOVIĆ, OSCE Representativeon Freedom of the Media: “the situation withmedia coverage in Ukraine is an alarm, a public call to start transformation toPSB, needed for voices truly independent”, she noted at the Side Event.