Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
The Representative on Freedom of the Media
Vienna, 1 June 2000
Statement at the Permanent Council
(Under Current Issues)
Madame Chairperson, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me for a minute use the opportunity to remind us of the death of two journalists from two of our participating States: last week Reuters correspondent Kurt Schork, a 53-year-old U.S. citizen, and Associated Press cameraman-producer Miguel Gil Moreno, 32, of Barcelona, Spain, were killed in an ambush in Sierra Leone. Both had worked in Bosnia.
Let me quote Martin Bell, BBC veteran reporter and currently member of the British Parliament, on Kurt Schork: "…He did more than file dispatches, which he did faster and better than anyone. He helped the helpless, rescued the wounded, and became the conscience-in-residence of the Sarajevo press corps…For Kurt the Bosnian war was and still is an epic struggle between good and evil."
Paying tribute today to the memory of Kurt Schork and Miguel Gil Moreno, we should also look at what we can do more to protect journalists in areas of conflict. Schork and Moreno were seasoned war correspondents, they knew the risks and how to minimise them. This knowledge did not save their lives. There are others, mostly free-lancers, who go into battle with no protection, no insurance and very little if any experience.
Last year, after the death of three journalists in Kosovo, I once again raised the issue of protection of journalists. My Office will continue the discussion on protection of journalists with media and military experts from OSCE member states this year. Look at options that are available to governments to try to help minimise the risks for war correspondents. Look at such issues as training, insurance, protection gear. We owe it to the memory of Kurt Schork and Miguel Gil Moreno and many others who have died trying to provide us with accurate and timely reports on a subject the OSCE since its birth in 1975 had been committed to stop before it ever starts: war.
Alexander Ivanko, one of my advisers who knew Kurt Schork, is trying to get a street in Sarajevo named after him. He is in touch with some Bosnian officials, however, I would like to ask the Bosnian delegation to support this initiative.