World Press Freedom Day: defending press freedom is a universal mission that knows no borders, says EU
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, the European Union condemns all forms of threats and violence against journalists, continues to support media workers in danger through local missions and via dedicated programmes, and joins UNESCO in its message: today more than ever, freedom of expression is crucial for all other human rights.
The EU reminds that the protection of freedom of expression remains a key priority for its human rights action, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 75 years ago:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
In a statement, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said: “While the preservation of free, independent and pluralistic media is vital for resilient and healthy democracies, press freedom is at stake in most parts of the world today. Journalists, media workers and all those who bring independent quality information to the public, shed light on the gross human rights violations and atrocities and hold those in power to account increasingly face discredit, threats and attacks, including through disinformation.”
Borrell also mentioned reporters in Ukraine and journalists from Belarus among media workers around the world who continue to pay a high price for exercising their profession.
The statement focuses particularly on women journalists who are mostly vulnerable to threats and increasing attacks, both offline and online, and are exposed to stigmatisation, sexist hate speech, trolling, sexual and gender-based violence and even murder. According to the EU, 73% of women journalists have experienced online threats, abuse, and harassment in the course of their work.
“Defending and promoting press freedom is a universal mission that knows no borders. The EU will remain committed to engage with governments, the media and civil society, both in international fora as well as at the local level, to take initiative and strengthen press freedom around the world,” the statement concludes.
For World Press Freedom Day, the European External Action Service has produced a video bringing together two journalists from countries impacted by war – Ukraine and Lebanon. Illia Ponomarenko from the Kyiv Independent, and Maya Gebeily from the Reuters Bureau in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan discuss what it means to be a war journalist.
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