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For Immediate Release
September 6, 1996

Catherine Fitzpatrick
(212) 465-1004 x-101
Amanda Onion
(212) 465-1004 x-110

Journalists Group Denounces Press Freedom Violations in Bosnia - Urges OSCE Enforcement Of Dayton Guarantees For Media

New York-- In an urgent appeal to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) denounced blatant violations of the Dayton Peace Accords' press freedom guarantees and called for stricter OSCE enforcement in the days remaining before the September 14 elections.

Severe restrictions on the physical mobility and editorial freedom of local print journalists and broadcast media have compromised the internationally supervised election process, CPJ said.

"By definition, no election can be considered truly free and fair unless the news media is able and willing to report fairly and openly to the entire electorate on the campaigns of all major contending parties, and all reporters, local and foreign, are free to cover the news without restrictions on their movements or justified fears of reprisals," CPJ said in a statement sent to the OSCE.

"With few exceptions, throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, these standards have not been met," said CPJ’s executive director, William A. Orme, Jr.

CPJ is a private nonpartisan organization based in New York and devoted to the defense of press freedom around the world. A CPJ report on press freedom conditions in Bosnia was sent Thursday to Flavio Cotti, chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and also sent to NATO leaders, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and leading European foreign ministers.

The statement denounces attacks on reporters attempting to cover opposition parties and obstruction of freedom of movement for journalists. Conditions are particularly harsh in Serb- and Croat-controlled areas. Reporters brave enough to drive between regions are intercepted and sometimes beaten. Correspondents are dismissed or censored for articles "harming the national interest." Independent radio stations have their signals overridden by state-run broadcast media or cut off entirely by well-timed "power outages." Television screens go blank during critical newscasts or candidates' debates. Air time allotted to the opposition is withheld. An internationally supported experiment in nonpartisan broadcasting, IN-TV, known as "Carl Bildt's TV" after the High Representative in Bosnia, has been blocked by the Bosnian government's refusal to grant a frequency. Bildt told CPJ chair Kati Marton that IN-TV will be begin broadcasting tomorrow but acknowledged that its impact will be largely limited to major cities.

Letter of Appeal

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