Today is the thirtieth annual World Press Freedom Day. This year’s motto is “Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights.”
Around the world, journalists and media professionals are the first line of defence for human rights. They address abuses of power, expose corruption, document human rights violations and make people and their stories visible.
But reporting is becoming more difficult both online and offline, with increasing numbers of journalists coming under pressure as a result of what they do. Threats of violence, technical obstructions or the closure of online media outlets, as recently in Hong Kong, impede journalists’ work. Last year alone, at least 58 journalists were murdered for reasons directly connected to their work – a terrible and unacceptable development. Meanwhile, multi-faceted cases and stories such as that of Julian Assange serve to deter and intimidate press and media professionals.
Media professionals of all kinds are essential for the functioning of democracy and the rule of law, not least in order to stem the flow of fake news and disinformation. We can see particularly stark evidence of this in connection with the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
For this reason too, protecting journalists and media professionals is more important than ever.