IFJ Endorses Joint Russian / Georgian Demand to End Media Restrictions

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today endorsed a joint declaration by the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) and the

Independent Association of Georgian Journalists (IAGJ) that demands an end to

all restrictions to reporting of the Georgian/ Russian

conflict. They call for an end to war propaganda and concrete actions to

promote dialogue and confidence between Russian

and Georgian journalists.

"This joint

declaration is a major step towards ending the unjustified and enduring restrictions

on journalists," said Aidan white, IFJ General Secretary. "In the face of

government obstruction, the professional journalists' communities are leading

the demands for mutual respect for their rights."

Since the conflict

of summer 2008, Georgian journalists have been prevented from accessing the conflict

zones of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, while Russian

journalists are denied access to the rest of Georgia. Meanwhile both governments

continue to block the transmissions of media from either country.

The declaration

calls on both governments to respect their obligations under UN security

Council Resolution 1738, that obliges governments to protect journalists in

conflict zones.  Both unions also demand

an independent review of the misuse of media to promoting war propaganda and

hate speech.

The IFJ says that

the long term resolution of the conflict and reconciliation between communities

in the region can only be achieved when journalists are allowed to report

independently, honestly and free of all restrictions.

"I welcome the

readiness of our Russian colleagues

to develop these crucial joint mechanisms to help journalists from Georgia, Russia and other countries report freely," said Zviad

Pochkhua, President of the IAGJ, "Society inside and outside of militarized

regions need to receive information free of state propaganda as part of the

resolution of the conflict."

"The Russian Union of Journalists has frequently

expressed concerns about the media coverage of the Russian

Georgia conflict in August 2008. Now we have a serious partner for dialogue in Georgia in the

Independent Association of Georgian Journalists and we believe that our

co-operation will be useful for developing of mutual understanding between our

people as a whole and our journalists in particular," added Mikhail Fedotov,

Secretary of the Russian Union of

Journalists.

The IFJ, RUJ and

IAGJ call for the urgent organizing of a meeting between professional

journalists on both sides to examine the obstacles and challenges in greater

depth that can map out a concrete plan to build dialogue and long term

confidence between professional journalists.

The declaration

emerged from a meeting of IFJ affiliates from Eastern Europe and the Caucasus

in Berlin to discuss the progress of

journalism since the fall of the Berlin

wall and ongoing obstacles to professional journalism in the region.  Participants highlighted the poverty

conditions and lack of minimum working rights under which journalists are

forced to work, the levels of corruption in the media that force journalists to

produce stories to order, increasing government interference and control, the

on-going scandal of impunity for the killers of journalists, and the twin

impact of the financial crisis and media restructuring that is undermining the

economic model of journalist across the globe.

 

The joint Georgian and Russian Declaration is available here


For more

information contact the IFJ at

  +32 2 235 2207       

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists

in 123 countries worldwide