According to the NGO Reporters Without Borders, a total of 521 journalists and reporters worldwide were arbitrarily detained in 2023 in connection with their work. The fact that media professionals across the world come under pressure again and again shows just how important their work is: they address abuses of power, expose corruption, document human rights violations and make people and their stories visible. And they do invaluable work for the functioning of democracy and the rule of law, not least in order to stem the flood of fake news and disinformation.
Promoting freedom of the press is a particular priority for the German Government, which has further stepped up its efforts in this direction in recent years. In 2022, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Claudia Roth, launched the Hannah Arendt Initiative to support and protect at-risk media professionals. The initiative enables at-risk journalists to continue their work in exile. In 2023, with Germany becoming a member of the Executive Group of the Media Freedom Coalition, the Federal Foreign Office demonstrated its commitment to international cooperation and established important milestones for the protection of media professionals.
On 22 January 2024, Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot of the Netherlands handed over the rotating co-chair of the Media Freedom Coalition to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Germany will work with its co-chair Estonia and with civil-society partners to continue the organisation’s work.
Stronger together than individually – this principle also applies to engagement for freedom of the press
The member states of the Media Freedom Coalition have undertaken to stand up for freedom of the press – both at home and in the scope of their cooperation with third parties. In addition, they coordinate closely in defence of at-risk press representatives.
Germany, represented by the Federal Foreign Office, will work with Estonia this year to strengthen this network of like-minded countries. Often, a precisely considered and coordinated approach is needed to protect the persons concerned. One possibility, for example, is to raise the threat to individuals or institutions in the context of so-called quiet diplomacy, i.e. in confidential talks with government representatives. However, the range of instruments available also includes public campaigns, statements and the creation of free scope for reporting. During its term as co-chair of the Media Freedom Coalition, Germany will also urge even more countries from all parts of the world to join the network.