SEEMO Press Freedom Mission Serbia

IPI/SEEMO Join Mission to Hungary

Groups Part of International Partnership to Highlight New Media Laws

Vienna, 16 November 2011

The International Press Institute (IPI) and its affiliate, the South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), in conjunction with a number of international media freedom groups, today began a joint International Partnership Mission to Hungary to highlight the country’s regressive new media laws.

IPI Press Freedom Adviser for Europe and North America Steven M. Ellis and SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic joined delegates from Article 19, the European Federation of Journalists, Freedom House, the Independent Journalism Center/Moldova, Index on Censorship, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, International Media Support, the Media Diversity Institute, the Network for Reporting on Eastern Europe, the Open Society Media Program and the South East European Network for Professionalization of Media.

Other delegates scheduled to join the mission to Budapest, which was set to take place from today until Wednesday, included a representative of the World Association of Newspapers. Mission participants were also joined by representatives from local partners such as the Center for Independent Journalism, Budapest, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Károly Eötvös Institute and Mediajogfigyelo.hu.

Participants on the mission were scheduled to meet with journalists, members of civil society and representatives of government during the mission.

Hungary's media laws, portions of which entered into effect in January as the country took over the European Union's six-month rotating presidency, have been heavily criticized by top EU politicians, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), journalists and a host of media freedom and freedom of expression groups.

IPI Press Freedom & Communications Manager Anthony Mills said:

“We hope that this mission will send the message that the spotlight remains firmly on Hungary. Despite some amendments to the legislation, it remains highly troubling. The broad participation in this mission serves to underscore the depth of concern that exists among a wide array of stakeholders about the potentially chilling effect of the laws. This is especially poignant because Hungary is a member of the European Union which is supposed to stand for inalienable democratic values including that of press freedom.”

Vujovic added:

“This is an opportunity for us to continue to monitor developments after the changes in the laws. We are still worried about the media situation in the country and we are using this visit to speak with media representatives to see if there have been cases of misuse of new regulations and to determine how they see the law nearly one year after it first became effective.”

The current mission marks the third joint visit by IPI and SEEMO to Hungary in relation to the new media laws.

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