Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union
The IFJ has been defending and promoting independent journalism in CEE and FSU since the early 1990s. The IFJ works with its affiliates to create professional unity as the foundation of campaigns for press freedom, decent working conditions and guaranteed professional rights for journalists.
Throughout the region the safety and protection of journalists has been a major priority. Over 250 journalists were killed between 1990 and 2002 in this region with a concentration in the Russian Federation (85) Chechnya (25), and former Yugoslavia (96).
The IFJ was one of the first organisations to bring safety training to this region and in 2003 issued ‘Live News: Survival Guide for Journalists' based on this work. Journalists have also been targeted and killed for their independence. The IFJ has prioritised campaigns, such as the investigation into the murder of Ukrainian Gyorgy Gongadze to end impunity for the attackers.
Central and Eastern Europe
Most states of Central and Eastern Europe are now members of the European Union, and subsequently part of the IFJ's regional body, the European Federation of Journalists. Despite the EU enlargement journalists in this region continue to face major problems. The majority of media are controlled by foreign corporations, public broadcasters continue to struggle to reform and protect themselves from political interference, and journalists are increasingly forced into irregular and unstable working arrangements.
Double standards have emerged between the social and professional rights enjoyed by journalists in the same company but working in different countries. In 2003 the IFJ highlighted these issues with the launch of the report - Foreign Ownership in Central and Eastern European Media: Ownership, Policy Issues and Strategies
South East Europe
During the break up of Yugoslavia the IFJ established a solidarity office in Ljubljana, which, for five years, organized emergency assistance, international alerts, appeals and direct relief for journalists in trouble.
In 1999 the IFJ launched the first phase of a regional programme, the Media For Democracy in South East Europe, MFDSEE. It brought together key media experts and journalists' unions to identify key action plans on the following issues:
- Editorial Independence and Public Service Broadcasting
- Reporting Conflict - Independence, Safety and Human Rights
- Ethics and Self-regulation
Based on the conclusions the IFJ launched the MFDSEE Phase II (2000 - 2003). This phase sought to develop and reinforce the professional independence and unity of journalists in new democracies, with a broad range of activities to promote:
- independent trade unions and associations of journalists
- reform of the legal environment
- public service broadcasting
- professional ethics through structures for self regulation
- human rights and conflict reporting
- safety of journalists
A full summary of activities are available from the quarterly publication, Journalists' Newsline.
Key reports included:
Live News - A Survival Guide for Journalists
Human rights Reporting- A handbook for Journalists in South-eastern Europe
In 2004 MFDSEE Phase III was launched. This project seeks to address the new challenges facing media and journalists set by the arrival of foreign media. In particular it seeks to strengthen the capacities of journalists' unions to defend the social and professional rights of their members.
The Former Soviet Union
The IFJ has been particularly active in Kyrgystan, Ukraine, Belarus and the Southern Caucasus in recent years with a particular focus on union building and safety related activities. Meanwhile it has monitored closely developments in Russia and the steady erosion of press freedom.
Media for Democracy in South Eastern Europe Phase III
Contact: Oliver Money-Kyrle