Ms. Dunja Mijatović, OSCE’s Representative on Media Freedom, was in Iceland in September where she met with senior government officials, urging the Icelandic authorities to continue its efforts to safeguard and improve media freedom. Ms. Mijatović’s office supports the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative: “I was pleased to learn more about the progress of the work in implementing the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative aimed at improving protection for free media in the country, initiatives like this can serve as a positive example for the whole OSCE region.”
The International Modern Media Institute along with the IMMI steering group under the Ministry of Education and Culture, are both working towards implementation of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative.
The visit prompted a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s website where the Minister of Foreign Affairs declared that “Iceland unequivocally supports the work of Mijatović, which is based on safeguarding freedom of expression and free, independent and diverse media essential to democracy, growth, and that the government is shown the necessary restraint”.
Ms. Mijatović also held a public lecture in Reykjavík where she discussed the state of media freedom and freedom of expression online and offline, highligthing the dangerous trends sweeping across Europe where civil liberties and human rights are being curbed and sacrificed in the name of public safety.Ms. Mijatović specifically discussed the state of defamation law in Iceland and was keen to follow the status of data retention in Iceland, which undermines greatly source protection and freedom of expression. Ms. Mijatović noted that Iceland is one of the few leading countries in freedom of the media, and individual freedoms in general, and that Iceland must preserve the progress it has made and set a strong example to others. To be at the forefront of social progress and individual rights is a position of great responsibility, not least so when repressive and regressive views and policies are sweeping through the continent, often in a top-down fashion.
IMMI greatly appreciates the observations Ms. Mijatović has made – including her support of the decriminalisation of blasphemy bill that passed in July – and will look to the office of OSCE’s Representative on Freedom of the Media for assistance and advice in the future. Ms. Mijatović’s visit provided a much needed attention to the matters of freedom of the media, freedom of expression and civil and human rights online as well as offline, all of which need more bypartisan support and focus.