SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress) on the soil of a free Libya. And on behalf of the American people I congratulate all Libyans. It is a great privilege to see a new future for Libya being born. And indeed, the work ahead is quite challenging, but the Libyan people have demonstrated the resolve and resilience necessary to achieve their goals.
Think about what has been achieved already. In crowded squares and mountain passes, Libyans stood up against a dictator’s aggression, and claimed the rights and dignity of a free people. Libyans were called rats by their own leaders and they were confronted by every possible tactic to break your spirit. But no threats dimmed the courage of the Libyan people. The United States was proud to stand with you, and we will continue to stand with you as you continue this journey, respecting your sovereignty and honoring our friendship. This is Libya’s moment. This is Libya’s victory and the future belongs to you.
The United States knows something about revolution and liberty. That is how our nation was born more than 230 years ago. And we know that democracy takes time; it will not be easy or quick. But we are filled with admiration for what you have already accomplished and confident in your ability to move forward.
Now, we recognize that the fighting, the bloody fighting, continues. We know that Qadhafi and those close to him are still at large. But the NATO and international coalition that came together on your behalf will continue to protect Libyan civilians until the threat from Qadhafi and those who hang to the past is ended.
In our meetings today, the chairman, prime minister, and their colleagues shared with us their plans for establishing an inclusive democracy in Libya. We agreed that the Libyan people deserve a nation governed by the rule of law, not the whims of men. We believe you deserve a government that represents all Libyans from all parts of the country and all backgrounds, including women and young people. We believe you deserve a transparent and fair judicial system. We also are convinced that revenge and vigilantism have no place in the new Libya.
And we believe you deserve an economy that delivers jobs, dignity, and opportunities to all Libyans – not just to the powerful and connected. We also share your concern about caring for the wounded and the families of the fallen, about securing weapons that may have gone missing, about integrating all the various revolutionary forces into a new and unified Libyan military.
Libya is blessed with wealth and resources, most particularly the human resources of the Libyan people. And there is a pressing need, as I was told today, for international expertise and technical assistance. That is why we welcome the idea of a joint committee between Libya and the United States to look at the priorities that the Libyans themselves have.
I am pleased that we are working together to return billions of dollars of frozen assets and that we have reopened our Embassy. We will stay focused on security: I am pleased to announce that we are going to put even more money into helping Libya secure and destroy dangerous stockpiles of weapons. And the Administration, working with Congress, is going to provide $40 million to support this effort. We will also work with Libya to destroy chemical weapons stocks.
We want to expand our economic cooperation with Libya, to create new educational and cultural exchanges and deepen our engagement with civil society. First, we will launch this new partnership to provide care to your wounded. It deeply moves us that so many people dropped whatever they were doing to fight for their freedom – engineers and teachers, doctors and business leaders, students, and so many others. We plan to evacuate some of the most seriously injured to specialized medical facilities in the United States. We want to help you care for your patients here in Libya, so we will work together to establish a modern medical management system and to provide needed supplies and equipment.
We are also very focused on the young people of Libya who have the most to gain from this new freedom. And today I am pleased to announce we are resuming the Fulbright program and doubling its size to permit even more Libyan students to study and train in my country. We will also open new English language classes across Libya for young people and provide special training for Libyan veterans with disabilities because of their combat experience.
We are increasing grants and training to new civil society organizations and working with Libyan women to make sure they have the skills and opportunities to participate fully in the political and economic life of their countries.
And as with the transitions in Tunisia and Egypt, we will partner with Libya to create new economic opportunities and broader prosperity by boosting trade and investment, increasing tourism, building ties between Libyan and American businesses, and helping to integrate Libya more closely into regional and global markets.
This list is just a beginning, because we want to hear from the Libyan people, from the new government that will be established after Libya is fully liberated. But we think we share a lot of the same aspirations for our families and our countries and that we have a lot to learn from each other and give to each other.
Later, I will be meeting with students and civil and society leaders at Tripoli University, talking and listening to the young people of Libya, because it is to all of them that we dedicate our efforts on your behalf.
So again, prime minister, let me thank you for your warm welcome, and thanks to the people of Libya. And we give you our very best wishes and promise our best efforts as you undertake this journey to a new democracy. (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER JIBRIL: Thank you, your Excellency.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by saying that I personally and the Government of the United States supports human rights everywhere for everyone. And we advocate that not only to governments but also through civil society and work to try to support the opportunities and aspirations of every individual to live up to his or her God-given potential. So we have spoken out. We will continue to speak out.
But different circumstances demand different kinds of responses, and the opportunity now in Libya is to not only chart a new future for Libyans but to stand as a model for democracy and freedom that was won with the blood of your martyrs is an extraordinary chance that comes perhaps only once in human history. So we think that what Libya has before it, the opportunity to make good on the promise of the revolution, is of the utmost importance, and that is why we are standing ready to work closely with the new Government of Libya and with the people of Libya.
We have and will continue to speak out to our friends, who we believe should do more on behalf of women and women’s rights – and I have said that many times – and with those with whom we have very serious differences, who are preventing the full aspirations and freedom of their people to flourish. But today, I am here to talk about Libya and Libya’s future and the hope that not only the United States but the world has invested in the future that Libyans will make for themselves.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Mister Prime Minister, how concerned are you about the possibility of civil war here, or any lengthy ongoing conflict with pro-Qadhafi forces? And also, could you both comment on what you believe should happen to the convicted Lockerbie bomber? Should he go back to prison?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think, first of all, we are encouraged by the commitment of the Transitional National Council to taking the steps necessary to bring the country together. National unity is one of the highest priorities that Libya faces right now. And we discussed the process of forging a new democratic interim government that is transparent, inclusive, and consultative. And how that is done will, of course, depend upon the decisions that the Libyan people themselves make.
But from long experience, one factor we know must be confronted is unifying the various militias into a single military that represents the Libyan people and government. And the Transitional National Council is very focused on doing just that. They want to get all the militias under national command. They want to prevent reprisals and secure the stocks of weaponry that have come off the battlefield or have been discovered from the previous regime. And we think that the programs that the Transitional National Council have outlined to pay to the families of the fallen martyrs, to prepare programs and treatment and training for those who have served, are exactly what will be needed. Getting a national army and a police force under civilian command is essential. And the United Nations, the United States, and other partners stand ready to do that. But we are still at the point where liberation has not yet been claimed because of the ongoing conflicts that persist, and of course, the continuing freedom of action of Qadhafi and those around him. So the Transitional National Council has to put security first. There has to be a resolution of the conflict before many of these programs can actually be put into action. And I really believe that all members of all militias must see the benefit of joining the new government, of pledging allegiance, as we say in my country, to the new government.
You know, I come from a very diverse country. We fought a civil war, and it was horrible. It was the war in which more Americans died at each other’s hands than any other, and we lived with the consequences for decades afterwards. In today’s world, in the 21st century, that will just throw a people further behind history. So I know that the leadership understands that. They are focused on doing everything they can to end the fighting, to declare the liberation of the country, to form a new government, and to begin to pull the entire country together. So we will do everything we can to respond to that.
And we have made, of course, our strong views known about Megrahi, and I have said, many times, that we believe that he should never have been released. I raised this issue again with the leadership here. We – and we recognize the magnitude of all the issues that Libya is facing, but we also know the importance of the rule of law, and they have assured us they understand how strongly the United States feels about this and all the sensitivities around this case. We will continue to pursue justice on behalf of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing. This is an open case in the United States Department of Justice, and we will continue to discuss it with our Libyan counterparts.
QUESTION: Does the United States –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Will you talk in the microphone so the press can hear you, sir? Thank you.
QUESTION: You hear me now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from Libya Al Hurra TV. Will the United States consider cooperating with the Libyan Islamists on delivering political process for Libya? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The democracy that takes root in Libya must be reflective of the aspirations of the people of Libya, not the desires or dictates of any outside group. So with respect to Libyans themselves, we will support a process of democratizing that respects the rule of law; that respects the rights of minorities and women and young people; that creates independent institutions, like a free press and an independent judiciary. Groups and individuals who really believe in democracy should be welcome into that process. But groups that want to undermine democracy or subvert it are going to have to be dealt with by the Libyans themselves.
There are people – and I’ve been working in this area for many years, even as a private citizen and as a United States senator. There are many people who say they support elections, but only if they get elected. They want one election, one time, and then if they are elected no more elections. So these are all the kinds of challenges that Libyans will face in putting together their democracy. But people must renounce violence, they must give up arms, they must be committed to a democracy that respects the rights of all. And then, of course, you have an inclusive democracy that includes people, but they must be committed to the goals of a true democracy.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’d like to take you a bit east of here. Today, Gilad Shalit has returned home after more than five years in captivity, and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have been released as well. I was wondering whether you could give us your reaction to the deal struck between Israel and Hamas and how that fits in, if at all, with your wider efforts to resume peace talks, for example, in the Middle East. And also slightly connected to this, we are hearing reports that the American Israeli citizen, Ilan Grapel, who’s been detained in Egypt on charges of spying, may be released. I was wondering whether you could confirm that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well first, we are pleased that a long ordeal, being held five years as a hostage, has ended for Gilad Shalit and he’s been released and finally reunited with his family. He was held for far too long in captivity. And we are also hopeful that Ilan Grapel will similarly be released. We see no basis for any legal action against him.
And of course, we are hopeful that there will be a return to negotiations by the Israelis and the Palestinians by the end of this month, as outlined by the Quartet statement.
So we continue to be very focused on working toward a two-state outcome that would give the Palestinian people the same rights that the Libyan people are now obtaining to chart their own destiny and make their own way in life with their own goals and aspirations being fulfilled, and that Israel would have secure borders and could contribute to the prosperity of the larger region. So we remain focused on that and we’ll continue to work toward those outcomes.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Prime Minister Jibril is smiling because I have raised it every time I have seen him and every time that I have seen Chairman Jalil and all of the Libyan officials with whom I have met over the last many months.
I would make three points. First, no country can become a democracy, no economy can develop as fully as it could, if half the population is not included. And the women of Libya have the same rights as their brothers and their husbands and their fathers and their sons to help build a new Libya. So we are very committed and very outspoken about what we hope will be the full inclusion of women in a democratic future.
Secondly, women also sacrificed in this revolution. Women were in the streets. Women were supporting the fighters. Women were sending their sons and their husbands off to an uncertain future, and many will never see them again. So women have sacrificed. They may not have been on the front lines holding a weapon, but they were holding together the society and supporting those who were fighting for Libya’s independence. So they have earned the right to be part of Libya’s future.
And finally, there is an opportunity here that I hope Libya will seize. I believe because you have won your freedom – no one handed it to you, you fought for it and you won it – that you will find it in your hearts to demonstrate to the entire world that Libya is not only free, but Libya is equal, Libya believes in the rule of law, Libya will educate all of their boys and girls to take their rightful places in the world. I would hope that I could come back to a free, democratic Libya in a few years, and it would be a shining example of what is possible when free people make their own choices.
So I cannot imagine how that could come to pass if women are not given the right to serve their country, to run their businesses, to be educated to the best of their abilities. So I will certainly look to ways that the United States can support the women in Libya to be able to take their rightful places in this new democratic future.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, my friend.
October 7 marks the fifth-year anniversary of the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Her reporting on the war in the North Caucasus brought to light the violation of human rights and the suffering of the victims in this conflict. We honor Anna’s legacy as a courageous journalist.
While we welcome the recent arrest of suspects in her murder, justice will not be done until all those involved in the crime are identified and prosecuted.
(As prepared for delivery at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Session 1)
Freedom of expression, including freedom of the press, and the ability of citizens to access and share a wide range of information are hallmarks of democratic governance and essential to national success in the Information Age. Across the OSCE, individual citizens as well as civil society organizations and journalists seek to inform and shape public debate, influence government decision-making, expose abuses of power, connect with one another and join in the great global flow of news, ideas and opinion. The OSCE, and its impressive Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, have played, and must continue to play, a pioneering role within this region and beyond it, in the defense and advancement of fundamental freedoms via traditional and online media.
Today, in a number of participating States, media – particularly independent media — are under pressure to be silent or self-censor. For practicing their profession, journalists are victims of brutal, sometimes deadly, attacks, often carried out with impunity. The Committee to Protect Journalists has noted that 546 journalists have been killed around the world with complete impunity since 1992. Three countries from the OSCE region — Russia, Tajikistan, and Turkey – are on the list of the top 20 countries that CPJ has recorded with unsolved, or in some instances entirely unaddressed, cases of murdered journalists. Many publics in the OSCE region are denied the opportunity to access a range of sources of information.
OSCE states also are part of a growing global trend by governments to restrict Internet freedom, and, by so doing, restrict the exercise via new media not only of the fundamental freedom of expression, but also the fundamental freedoms of assembly and association. These enduring freedoms apply just as much to a communication sent by Twitter or a gathering organized by Facebook as they do to a conversation on the telephone or in coffee shops, or a demonstration in a public square.
As Secretary Clinton has emphasized: “The rights of individuals to express their views freely, petition their leaders, worship according to their beliefs – these rights are universal, whether they are exercised in a public square or on an individual blog. The freedoms to assemble and associate also apply in cyberspace. In our time, people are as likely to come together to pursue common interests online as in a church or a labor hall.”
Almost every aspect of today’s society is being transformed by the rapidly growing number of Internet users, the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices, and the expansion of tools such as blogs, social networking sites, and online media. With two billion people now online, the Internet has become the public space of the 21st century.
It is no coincidence that authorities who try to restrict the exercise of fundamental freedoms by their people, impede the work of human rights defenders and civil society organizations, control the press and obstruct the flow of information, tend to be the same authorities who try to restrict, impede, control and obstruct their citizens’ peaceful use of the new digital technologies.
While the latest connective technologies are the most topical media, we must not lose sight of the fact that newspapers, TV, and radio remain critical outlets for information and opinion for much of the world’s population, including in the OSCE region. These media outlets are no less important and no less deserving of the full adherence to OSCE commitments.
Let me now raise specific concerns about freedom of expression and media freedom in a number of OSCE participating States.
In Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, the state retains a tight grip on all media. We urge the Government of Turkmenistan to allow the importation of foreign print media and to relax existing restrictions on foreign and domestic journalists. Last month, Uzbekistan authorities blocked dozens of Internet sites, including those of the New York Times and many Russia-based news websites. At the beginning of September, Uzbekistan unveiled a new government-sponsored social media site—Mulokot—that reportedly is available only to persons with a registered Uzbek cell phone number. There already are indications that the site is monitored and censored.
Although print media are freer in Kazakhstan, authorities have used excessive fines to close small independent newspapers critical of the regime. Ramazan Yesergepov, editor of the weekly Alma-Ata Info, is still in prison for allegedly revealing state secrets while reporting on a corruption investigation. Authorities have blocked a number of popular blogs and media sites under a 2009 law that classifies all Internet content as media, most recently the popular blog platform LiveJournal, on the grounds that extremists had posted blogs on it. Kazakhstan also recently decided that all .kz domain names will have to operate on physical servers within its borders, a move that could build a virtual wall around the Kazakhstani internet that authorities could use to further control content.
We welcome recent amendments to the Criminal Code in Kyrgyzstan which decriminalized libel and urge other participating States with such laws to consider doing the same. Along with the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, we strongly urge that the remaining speech crimes of ‘insult’ and ‘insult of an official’ will also be repealed. More than a year after the violence of June 2010 in Kyrgyzstan, we remain concernedby the closure of Uzbek-language media, particularly in the run-up to elections next month. The August attack by unknown assailants against journalist Shokhrukh Saipov—whose brother Aliher was murdered for his journalism work in 2007—is another example where swift action by the Kyrgyz authorities to investigate and prosecute the crime can help reverse its chilling effect on media freedom.
Armenia also decriminalized libel in 2010, but since then the civil code has been misused to stifle the media through the imposition of heavy fines. Moreover, A1+ TV is still off the airwaves, despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. We hope government will take steps to improve media freedom, especially in light of the upcoming parliamentary elections next year.
In Tajikistan, the government controls most printing presses, newsprint supplies, and broadcasting facilities. The government used this power in 2010 to stop the publication of several newspapers and block access to independent internet websites. Government officials have used lawsuits to intimidate critics. Last June, Urunboy Usmonov, a local correspondent for the BBC who met with members of a banned Islamic group in order to write a story, was arrested on suspicion of belonging to that group. Though he has since been released on bail, he still faces criminal prosecution. Journalist Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov has been held in pre-trial detention since November 2010, charged with inciting religious and national hatred, slander and other crimes after he reported on local corruption.
Although we welcome Azerbaijan’s release of journalist Eynulla Fatullayev and activists Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade, journalists and activists in that country continue to risk fines, beatings and imprisonment for exercising their freedom of speech.
In Georgia, many media criticize the government, but the two primary TV stations with countrywide reach remain heavily influenced by the government. There are also ongoing concerns about transparency of ownership of media outlets despite a law passed in 2010 limiting off shore ownership to 10 percent. We look forward to the January 2012 implementation of legislation designed to address these concerns. There are also reports of direct and indirect pressure on journalists, including the beating by security forces of journalists covering the events of the night of June 25-26, and the government’s tax inspection of Media Palitra shortly after it showed coverage of the events of June 25-26 in a manner unfavorable to the government.
Belarus has a poor record on freedom of expression—including for members of the media. The state maintains a monopoly on information about political, social, and economic affairs. Journalists risk fines and/or imprisonment for publishing views contrary to the official government line. This record further deteriorated with last December’s post-election crackdown; students, members of human rights organizations, bloggers, and political party activists were harassed, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and expression. The further crackdown on independent media included beatings, detentions, convictions, searches, equipment confiscations and other forms of harassment, as well as threats of administrative closures of newspapers. Belarus has periodically blocked social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook and shut down opposition Internet sites. Customers at Internet cafes must present identity documents, and the cafes are responsible for maintaining lists of users and the websites they visit. Authorities routinely monitor emails and Internet traffic. Responding to the “silent protests” that took place in June and July, the government reportedly created “mirror” websites to divert users from accessing independent news sources and blocked access to the popular Vkontakte website before and during protest actions.
In Russia, journalists have risked—and lost—their lives to do their jobs. Paul Klebnikov, Anna Politkovskaya, and Natalya Estemirova and are only three of those who have paid the ultimate price for reporting the news. Journalists covering the ongoing violence in the North Caucasus and official corruption face especially dangerous conditions. Many journalists exercise self-censorship to avoid government pressure.
We welcome the Russian President Medvedev’s statement at the World Economic Forum in January that “Any attempts to limit the Internet or stifle innovation will lead the world to stagnation. Russian will not support initiatives that put Internet freedom in question.” The spread of the Internet undoubtedly has had a positive effect on Russian civil society, providing new opportunities for grassroots organizations to connect with citizens and new platforms to voice alternative viewpoints and hold government accountable. However, problems associated with press freedom for print media have begun to migrate to online media as well. Even when technical blocks or filtering are not deployed systematically, if people are punished physically or through legal action for peacefully expressing themselves online, Internet freedom is constrained. The threats to Internet freedom in Russia range from attacks on bloggers to criminal prosecutions for “extremism”, to the blocking of specific sites by local service providers, denial of service attacks on sites of opposition groups or independent media, and attempts by security services and some regional authorities to regulate Internet content.
In Ukraine, while many outlets for alternative, independent views still exist, the media in general have become less competitive as dominance by the state and oligarchs friendly to the authorities—both national and local—has grown. A number of journalists focusing on corruption at the local level have been threatened or attacked. Impunity for attacks on journalists and the media undermines democracy and the rule of law. It is troubling that authorities have not yet shed light on the disappearance of investigative reporter Vasyl Klymentyev in Kharkiv more than one year ago. And the closed door trial concerning the killing in 2000 of journalist Georgiy Gongadze challenges the right of the public to be informed. It is vital in a democracy that independent media can freely report on matters of public concern.
The United States shares the concern of the Representative on Freedom of the Media and others regarding media freedom in Macedonia. Most recently, the mandates of all members of the management board of the public broadcaster MRT were terminated, a move which could compromise the independence of the broadcaster. When combined with the closure earlier this year of A1 TV and three newspapers accused of tax evasion, we see an overall downward trend, leaving Macedonian citizens with fewer media choices.
In Turkey, scores of Turkish journalists are behind bars, and thousands more are under investigation. A recent survey of journalists indicated that 85.1% of those polled said censorship and self-censorship are definitely common in the Turkish media, while 14.9% said censorship and self-censorship are fairly common. We are increasingly concerned by the restrictions that the Government of Turkey places on Internet freedom. According to the excellent report issued by the Representative of Freedom of the Media, Turkey has the broadest legal measures in the OSCE region for blocking access to websites by specifying 11 content-related crimes, and is considering even further filtering of content. We welcome Ankara’s decision to delay the introduction of new Internet measures, including a nationwide filtering package which members of civil society and industry opposed as a further restriction of Internet freedom. We urge the authorities to respond to their concerns and ensure that any new Internet policies respect a free and open Internet in Turkey.
Digital networks are essential to everyday life in the 21st Century. They empower those working for human dignity and they are an engine of national and global prosperity. At the same time, the Internet’s force and reach make it a target for intrusive governmental regulation. The United States is determined to lead by example and demonstrate by our own actions that increased security and enhanced user privacy go hand-in-hand with keeping the Internet open and free.
All participating States, the United States included, have a responsibility to uphold the solemn OSCE commitments we have made in the crucial areas of freedom of expression and media freedom. We have a responsibility to investigate and prosecute violence against journalists. And we have a responsibility to ensure a political climate that is conducive to the functioning of independent, pluralistic media via traditional and new technologies. We must meet these responsibilities with no excuses and no delay.
The United States marks with sadness the second anniversary of the death of human rights defender and journalist Nataliya Estemirova, and the death of Forbes journalist and editor Paul Klebnikov, who died in Russia seven years ago on July 9. Both were killed promoting society’s right to know the truth. The United States supports the efforts of brave journalists across the globe, who like Nataliya and Paul, speak out against abuses and work to secure fundamental freedoms of expression and press.
The United States warmly welcomes you back to the Permanent Council today, Representative Mijatovic. We thank you for your detailed report, evidence of your tireless dedication to advancing the cause of media freedom throughout the OSCE region. You and your staff tirelessly promote best practices, conduct valuable training exercises, and provide excellent technical advice that serves as guideposts for participating States to fulfill their commitments to media freedom.
We are pleased by the several instances of governments cooperating with your office to discuss, investigate, and address worrisome trends and policies affecting media freedom. However, your report also highlights continuing threats to media freedom within the OSCE region.
The most troubling trend continues to be violence against journalists. We continue to hear reports of violent assaults and threats of violence against journalists in the OSCE region. All too often, cases of violence against journalists go unresolved. We welcome the news from Russia of important advances in the separate murder cases of Anastasia Baburova and Anna Politkovskaya, and urge the Russian Federation to continue to address the problem of impunity for those who attack journalists. In this regard, we hope the recommendations from the Conference on Safety of Journalists, coupled with the pending catalogue of best practices, will aid all participating States in creating a safer environment for journalists. As noted by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia there, “Governments bear the fundamental responsibility to ensure that journalists are free to practice their professions without interference or reprisal…and to combat violence against journalists from any quarter.”
Another troubling trend in the OSCE region is the continuing use of legal mechanisms such as tax codes, registration requirements, criminal defamation laws, and other legal or administrative obstacles on free speech in order to prosecute journalists for their work, or to punish or intimidate those with whom a government may disagree. The United States joins with you in calling for the release of all journalists imprisoned for simply exercising their right to freedom of expression. We are also disturbed by government efforts to shut down independent media outlets through law suits, disproportionate fines, confiscation of materials, and closure of printing houses.
We particularly welcome your efforts to ensure freedom of expression and association on the Internet, which is becoming an increasingly important platform for the full exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the 21st century.
In Kyrgyzstan, which has taken measures in the past year to increase media freedom, Parliament last week adopted a resolution calling for an independent news site to be blocked on the basis that it incites ethnic hatred. In fact, what will help foster ethnic reconciliation is greater availability of information, not less. Fortunately, a wide range of influential voices inside and outside governmental institutions in Kyrgyzstan have spoken out publicly against possible censorship of the media. We are glad to see that Representative Mijatovic added her voice as well.
With respect to media freedom in Tajikistan, we join you in welcoming the decision of three judges to drop their lawsuits against three independent papers. However, we are seriously concerned about the detention of and denial of counsel to BBC journalist Urunboi Usmonov who, after reporting on the arrests of religious extremists, is now imprisoned on charges of extremism. The criminal case against Asht District journalist Makhmadusuf Ismoilov, who has been jailed since October 23, 2010, goes on. Mr. Ismoilov was arrested after publishing reports alleging local government corruption. We note the lack of progress in the investigation into the violent assault on Hikmatullo Saifullozoda on February 7. We also find it troubling that the Justice Ministry forced independent newspaper Paykon to close on May 6. A high ranking Ministry of Interior official’s lawsuit against Asia Plus newspaper remains open.
We again note that your report makes no mention of Turkmenistan or recent reports that individuals associated with RFE/RL have been the targets of intimidation by Turkmen government agents apparently because of their work as, or relationship to, journalists. As we said previously, this lack of mention should not be perceived as a positive indication, but rather a reflection of the nearly complete lack of media freedom in Turkmenistan. We call upon the government of Turkmenistan to engage with your office and to take immediate steps to uphold its OSCE commitments on media freedom.
Finally, we share your concerns over the critical state of media freedom in Belarus, and call on authorities there to end the harassment of independent journalists and to take seriously its OSCE commitments.
Thank you again, Representative Mijatovic. We applaud the dedicated work of you and your staff in advancing media freedom within the OSCE. You can count our full support as you continue this critical work.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
QUESTION: Welcome to Zambia.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. I’m delighted to be here. It’s my – I’ve been to Victoria Falls, but it’s my fist trip to Lusaka, so I’m very happy about that.
QUESTION: That’s good. That’s good. I just wanted to find out from you, I’m aware that America has a freedom of information law in place and Zambia doesn’t have one, so (inaudible). What would be your advice to Zambia (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we in the United States have found that the freedom of information laws are a very important tool for people to hold their government accountable. You should, in a democracy, have access to information that is not so secret that it could undermine the state or cause people to be targeted and perhaps intimidated or worse. But the run-of-the-mill government activities that go on every day, people have a right to know about them and to ask questions about them. So we urge countries to adopt their own freedom of information laws.
QUESTION: Zambia goes to the polls this year, and the public media, financed by public resources – it is said to be only covering the ruling party, and so opposition feel like they’re being not listed. Would you say that is a good atmosphere for free and fair elections?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, we expect there to be free, fair, and transparent elections in Zambia, and we don’t expect anyone, the government or anyone else, to be given special privileges. That is not appropriate. I will be meeting with the two leading opposition candidates at our Embassy later today, and I will certainly be listening to their concerns. The specifics, I can’t comment on. I don’t know about the specifics.
I know that sometimes the lines are hard to draw in our own country. The President remains the president, even though he’s going to be running for reelection, so certain things go along with being the president. He’ll still live in the White House, he’ll still travel on Air Force One, so sometimes the lines are a little complicated. But the general point is there need to be free, fair, transparent elections. No candidate should be disadvantaged and no candidate should be privileged.
QUESTION: There is debate currently in the country and (inaudible) between the government and the media. The government wants to regulate the media through the statutes and the media are opposed to that. Now, what advice would you give? Would you prefer voluntary media regulation or self media regulation above statutory media regulation?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we believe in freedom of the press and free expression in the United States, so we don’t think that the government should be regulating the media. Now, there are certain laws that may be called for, but in general, we don’t think that a system of regulation on the media is in the interest of democracy. Anybody who’s ever been in government, as I am, or been in politics, as I have, knows you don’t like everything that’s going to be in the media. People are not going to just write love letters to you if you have a free and independent media. They’re going to criticize you. They’re going to ask difficult questions. That goes with the territory of being in a democracy.
And as annoying as it might be if you are in the government, you just have to do a better job of communicating. Sometimes the media asks questions because they’re not getting information, to go back to your point about the freedom of information. So the more information you can provide, the better the relationship with the media will be.
QUESTION: And there’s something different (inaudible) HIV and AIDS. Africa, of course, is very much at the center of it all, and the U.S. is a leader in provisional funds to the Global Fund. Some countries like Zambia have been cited to have abused some Global Funds for HIV and AIDS. What would be your advice to countries like Zambia in the use of resources from the Global Fund?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s just absolutely unacceptable that any company – any country would not use the funds from the Global Funds for the purpose they’re intended: to provide treatment and services to people living with HIV and AIDS. We are supporting the Global Fund in its efforts to conduct audits to try to determine if money has been misused. But I don’t know how anyone can meet those who are suffering from HIV and AIDS and do anything other than want to help those people. So we’re going to be very tough on any country that takes our money or takes Global Fund money that doesn’t use it for what it’s intended.
QUESTION: And finally on – to ask you about Libya, some Africans or some people feel that Western countries, including the U.S., are sort of bullies of the world. A case in point is Libya bombings. Is (inaudible) the best option to the settling the problems of Libya?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is not the best option. It was the last option. Everyone asked that Qadhafi have a ceasefire against his own people, that he enter into discussions, that he – he’s a man who’s been in power for more than 40 years. He’s never been elected honestly to anything, and it was time for him to transition his country. And he refused and, in fact, threatened his own people, said he was going to hunt them down like rats.
And when the Arab League, which has never asked for intervention before, asked for a fellow Arab state to be taken to the United Nations, the international community agreed, including South Africa, Nigeria, Gabon, the other – the African members on the Security Council.
We still every day ask him to cease his attacks on his people, withdraw his troops, his mercenaries. And so far, he’s refused to do so. It’s a very unfortunate situation. But he continues to attack civilians, and under the United Nations, we are obligated to try to protect those civilians.
QUESTION: I’d like to thank you very much for the interview.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir. I enjoyed it.
QUESTION: Thank you.
Let me begin by thanking Secretary General Insulza, President Funes, and Foreign Minister Martinez for their superb efforts in organizing and hosting this 41st General Assembly of the Organization of American States.
It is fitting to the spirit of the OAS Charter and the Inter American Democratic Charter that the General Assembly is meeting in El Salvador. The hard-won achievements of Salvadorans are widely recognized. I would like to reemphasize President Obama’s words during his March visit here, when he commended El Salvador for its courageous work to overcome old divisions, and for showing that progress comes through pragmatism and building consensus.
The theme our hosts have selected for this General Assembly, “Citizen Security in the Americas,” is profoundly important for all of us, and we applaud the Salvadoran decision to highlight citizen security as the theme of our Assembly this year.
Threats to the security of our citizens often come from transnational crime. No individual government can hope to deal with international criminals alone. Indeed, the criminals use our international boundaries to their own advantage, and to the disadvantage of law enforcement. But working together, we can reinforce national efforts and create new collaborative efforts to fight crime in all its forms.
Throughout the Americas, our governments understand the critical importance of building effective, democratic institutions that can deliver concrete results, provide economic and social opportunity, and safeguard citizen security. Civil society across the Americas is a vibrant and engaged partner, helping to strengthen political will, and to amplify the voices of the governed. This critical partnership, within our countries and here within the OAS, is essential for building stronger institutions, reinforced by dialogue and mutual respect.
Regionally, there is renewed impetus for security cooperation and coordination between democratic societies—cooperation that transcends traditional state-to-state formulas, and that draws from the experience, knowledge, and resources of multiple players. In Central America, regional governments and other partners throughout the Americas – the European Union, and institutions like SICA, the Inter American Development Bank, and the World Bank – are collaborating in unprecedented ways to develop and implement national and regional strategies to bolster citizen security.
Let me recall that the first sentence of the first article of the OAS Charter calls the Organization to a high purpose—which includes promoting solidarity, strengthening collaboration, and defending sovereignty.
The strong partnerships growing across the Americas embody that purpose. It would be hard to imagine this common cause without the democratic growth and development that are transforming most countries in the Americas.
The OAS has played a very important role in getting us to this point. I think of the critical role the OAS has played in brokering the peaceful settlement of border disputes involving member states, or the ever-increasing number of electoral observation missions the OAS has undertaken.
The OAS also leads the way in developing peer review processes, such as that established by the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption. The Inter-American Human Rights Commission continues to seek redress for the victims of abuse throughout the region—and has not hesitated to criticize and make recommendations for every country of the hemisphere, including my own. We should be proud of this record, and continue to build upon it.
With these milestones in mind, we recognize that the central pillars of the OAS—strengthening democratic institutions, safeguarding human rights, promoting development, and enhancing multidimensional security—are important goals that deserve our focused energy. At the same time, a renewed effort to better align these pillars with available funding guides the efforts of the United States to ensure that the OAS remains focused and clear in its purpose. Strengthening of the OAS can be achieved, even in difficult budget environments, by directing attention and resources toward its core strengths.
The OAS enjoys a unique status in the Americas. It embodies much of what makes the Americas a remarkable community of shared interests and values. And the Organization has a vast capacity to nurture the impetus toward integration that exists in every sub-region in the Americas. That integration will be critical to the success and competitiveness of my country, and each of yours, in an ever more interconnected world.
The reality of the Americas is that our citizens have an increasingly sophisticated understanding of their global interests, and are increasingly linking up with each other and the rest of the world. We see this in civil society through the use of social media and modern technology. We see this in the private sector. And we see this in governments, across all agencies and at all levels.
And so, as we work in solidarity to strengthen our institutions to fight transnational crime and build resilient communities, we know that our common cause does not compromise sovereignty, but rather safeguards it. This is why we must work even harder to strengthen the underpinnings of our democratic societies—good governance, responsive institutions, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law—which are essential elements of democracy and founding principles of this Organization.
As members of the OAS, we have pledged to support and uphold democratic principles and practices, and that standard must continue to guide us. We share a fundamental belief in the dignity and worth of the individual, and that those who govern must have the consent of the governed. Democracy requires the ability of citizens to openly enjoy their political and civil liberties without fear of reprisal; a free and unfettered press; and a vibrant civil society.
During this year, there is a growing momentum in the region to reflect on the implementation of the Democratic Charter—and how it can be used more effectively and proactively.
The Democratic Charter served as our guide in dealing with recent events in Honduras, and assisted in shaping our region’s discussions regarding its successful return to our Organization. We should take stock of the lessons learned from this experience. Following the suspension of Honduras, the international community worked through the OAS to help Honduras restore its democracy. The free and fair election of President Lobo, and the formation of a government of national reconciliation and a Truth Commission, fulfilled the obligations in the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. Honduras continues to exhibit an unwavering commitment to democratic governance. For Honduras, the recent vote on reintegration marked a historic milestone and represents a significant moment for the OAS, which demonstrated its capacity to safeguard democracy in the hemisphere.
By working together to integrate our steadfast commitment to democracy with real and sustained efforts to help citizens, we can make tremendous progress in advancing Inter-American cooperation in support of a safe and secure region. Our futures and our fortunes are closely linked. Our common challenge is to ensure that our common efforts support the vital role of the OAS.
Let me conclude simply by reaffirming the United States’ commitment to working with all of you and this Organization in a spirit of genuine and equal partnership.
The United States strongly condemns the abduction and killing of reporter Syed Saleem Shehzad. His work reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan’s stability. We support the Pakistani government’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
We remain committed to helping the government and people of Pakistan as they work to bring peace and stability to the country.
The United States welcomes the release by the government of Azerbaijan of imprisoned journalist Eynulla Fatullayev. We monitored Mr. Fatullayev’s case closely and called for a transparent legal process consistent with Azerbaijani law and international norms. We congratulate Mr. Fatullayev and his family on his release. We remain committed to working with Azerbaijan to advance democratic reforms, including on freedom of expression, and other reforms necessary to secure a prosperous future for its people.
The United States welcomes the release of the foreign journalists in Libya, including two U.S. citizens, and thanks all of the governments and individuals who worked on behalf of our citizens.
We call upon the Libyan government to immediately release all U.S. citizens and others who are being unjustly detained. Qadhafi and his regime must allow journalists to carry out their work within Libya free from fear and intimidation and to respect the universal rights of everyone in Libya, including U.S. citizens and others. We will continue to work relentlessly to secure the release of all U.S. citizens unjustly detained in Libya and — with the help of the international community — hold accountable those responsible for the reprehensible human rights abuses against the Libyan people and others within Libya.