The Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media are jointly launching a new programme to support and protect journalists, media professionals and defenders of freedom of expression in crisis and conflict zones abroad as well as those in exile in Germany. The Hannah Arendt Initiative is also intended to implement a mandate from the coalition agreement.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock:
Free journalism is the best antidote to human rights violations and the abuse of power. Particularly right now, we are witnessing once again how indispensable the work of journalists is, who, for example, report on the protests of intrepid women and girls in Iran or Russia’s horrific war crimes in Ukraine. They are all too often persecuted, arrested, beaten up and murdered for their work. In order to continue their work, these courageous people need safe havens, employment opportunities and support. That is why we are now creating the Hannah Arendt Initiative, an emergency programme for media workers and journalists offering tangible protection and support measures.
Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth:
Journalists are increasingly becoming targets of dictators, anti-democrats and extremists, as they shake the propaganda of the Potemkin villages in Moscow, Kabul, Tehran and around the world with their free and independent reporting. They are powerful, self-confident voices in the struggle for freedom and self-determination, for democracy and peace. The Hannah Arendt Initiative sends an important signal of support for freedom of expression and freedom of the press and for the protection of journalists, especially in these times. With this initiative, we are providing targeted support for journalists who have fled their home countries so that they can continue their important work in exile. Civil society initiatives are key stakeholders in this initiative as they play an important role in establishing balanced mechanisms that facilitate state support for the media without infringing the principle of separation between broadcast media and the state.
Projects of the Hannah Arendt Initiative are already under way in a pilot phase both at home and abroad. Journalists at risk from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus will be supported as a first step, specifically through emergency scholarships, training measures, regional scholarship programmes and centres for journalists in exile in third countries, as well as with corresponding measures for those in exile in Germany. In addition, there is a special emergency assistance programme for averting immediate threats to the life and limb of individual media workers in the countries of origin in a targeted and rapid manner. Partners of the initiative include DW Akademie, the European Fund for Journalism in Exile (JX Fund), Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom. As a contribution to the protection programme, DW Akademie will coordinate the network of partners, which will be open to further partners and facilitates the ongoing development of the support available.
The Federal Foreign Office has already earmarked 3.5 million euro for the Hannah Arendt Initiative in 2022. The funds will support media professionals who continue to promote independent reporting in their countries of origin through their work – initially 360 people abroad. By contributing 4.2 million euro to the European Fund for Journalism in Exile (JX Fund) in 2022, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media has already helped to support a total of more than 500 media professionals since April 2022. These pilot projects are also part of the future structure of the protection programme, which is committed to the constitutional requirement of separation between broadcast media and the state and state neutrality. Funding is provided solely on the basis of opinion-neutral criteria and by independent juries whose opinions are not influenced by the state.