Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (1 November) on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists:
Unfortunately we are observing in many countries throughout the world how spaces of freedom for journalists are being undermined or restricted. Their valuable investigative work is frequently discredited and thereby weakened, calling into question the entire credibility of free media. Attacks against journalists are attacks on the freedom of expression and information of democratic societies.
It is imperative for journalists to have an environment in which they can work in safety without fear of harassment, intimidation, political pressure, censorship and persecution. Legal systems need to protect media organisations and journalists all over the world so that they can be fully independent in performing their work. At a time in which the targeted dissemination of disinformation by state and non‑state players alike appears to be constantly on the increase, the independence of critical journalist needs to be strengthened and their security guaranteed. A democracy cannot thrive without free, diverse and independent media. They are a cornerstone of any democratic society. Unhindered, critical and precise reporting is in the interests of all citizens, for it holds states, governmental representatives, enterprises and societies throughout the world to account for their actions in its role as the Fourth Estate.
Today, on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, we remember all journalists across the globe who are exposed to threats and considerable danger in exercising their profession, who are kidnapped, tortured, wilfully arrested, intimidated, threatened or who disappear after being subjected to violence. Female journalists are often particularly severely affected and exposed to attacks to a significant extent in the course of their work. We commemorate all journalists who have given their lives for their work. Sadly, close family members also often fall victim to attacks.
These despicable crimes need to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted as criminal offences. The perpetrators must not be allowed to remain unpunished. State protection measures for endangered journalists and their families need to be implemented effectively.
The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists takes place every year on 2 November. Launched by the United Nations in 2013 in honour of the journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, who were killed in Mali, it calls on all UN Member States to introduce concrete measures to counter the continued widespread culture of impunity. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), more than 1000 journalists were killed between 2006 and 2017. The German Government works both at national level and in multilateral forums to promote free and independent reporting, not least through the International Partnership on Information and Democracy launched by Reporters Without Borders, and is actively engaged in fostering the protection of journalists through initiatives such as the Global Campaign for Media Freedom.