Günter Nooke, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (29 April) in the run-up to World Press Freedom Day on 3 May:
"Democracy is inconceivable without press freedom. The United Nations General Assembly underscored the great importance of this freedom fifteen years ago when it proclaimed 3 May to be World Press Freedom Day. I am saddened by the fact that in many parts of the world the press are still only able to report freely on strictly limited issues, if at all. Millions of people are thereby deprived of their right to information.
One of the worst forms that infringements of press freedom can take is the assassination and intimidation of journalists. Over the past decade, more than 1000 journalists have sacrificed their lives for their chosen profession. Where a climate of fear and a culture of impunity prevail it becomes ever harder to report freely on events.
We are also concerned by and must further observe the tendencies, also found in multilateral institutions, of placing further restrictions on freedom of opinion and freedom of the press. At its session in March 2008, the UN Human Rights Council thus additionally mandated the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion to monitor whether expressions of opinion may constitute acts of racial or religious discrimination. There is a great danger that this could be used as a pretext for further restricting freedom of opinion and freedom of the press."