Statement by Human Rights Commissioner Luise Amtsberg on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day

03.05.2024 - Press release

Luise Amtsberg, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement on World Press Freedom Day:

Freedom of the press is the cornerstone and yardstick of each and every democracy. Human rights violations are a sad reality of daily life for many people wherever it is not possible to report or to express opinions freely. As freedom of the press is not only about the right to inform and to report, but also about the right to be informed as a member of the public, to freely form an opinion and thereby to speak truth to power, it is the freedom of the press that is the first thing to come under pressure in authoritarian contexts.

Around the world, journalists are tirelessly continuing their work despite the danger of repression, imprisonment and the risk to life and limb. In Myanmar, this threat to media professionals has risen drastically since the military coup in February 2021. Journalist Sai Zaw Thaike was arrested for reporting on the impacts of a cyclone that killed at least 148 people, many of them members of the persecuted Rohingya minority. In Iran, it was thanks to courageous journalists that the world learned of the death of Jina Mahsa Amini. In Ukraine, journalists are bravely continuing their work also under the most difficult circumstances of Russia’s war of aggression, which has been raging for over two years now.

The work of journalists is greatly hampered particularly in war zones or conflicts exacerbated by hunger or destroyed infrastructure. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, almost 100 media professionals have already been killed in the war in Gaza. Less and less information on the situation in Gaza is getting through to the public as a result. Also in the Sudan, journalists and media professionals have had to fear for their lives since the start of the brutal fighting between the Sudanese Army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. According to Reporters Without Borders, they are at acute risk of violent attacks and abduction.

The importance of independent journalists must be emphasised time and again against the backdrop of an increasing number of conflicts, and also in light of an increase in the amount of disinformation as well as hate and hate speech. Respect and recognition alone are not enough, however. It is up to us to protect journalists and media professionals and to ensure that they are able to go about their work. Instruments such as the German Government’s Hannah Arendt Initiative, together with local partners, offer protection and support programmes for media professionals around the world. This year, the initiative will extend its programmes to Central America for the first time, thereby addressing a further context in addition to countries already receiving support, such as Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Sudan. A particular focus is on female media professionals, who are often victims of threats and targeted defamation campaigns in their home countries, as well as media professionals from local and community media in rural areas, who often have limited access to information and support services.


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