Speech by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Ministerial Segment of the “Media Freedom Conference” by the “Media Freedom Campaign”

16.11.2020 - Speech

The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is about treatments and vaccines.

But it is also about communication:

Because our health depends on transparent and fact-based information about the virus. And for such information to reach the people, we need free media.

However, the pandemic has put media freedom around the world under additional pressure:

Some regimes are using the fight against the virus as a pretext to imprison or silence critical journalists – and to put media organisations under state control.

With lockdowns making people spend more time online, especially women journalists are facing more digital attacks, abuse and hate speech on social media.

And we have seen that manipulation and disinformation offline and online are the deadly amplifiers of the pandemic.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, we need to stand up against these dangerous trends.

That is why Germany has launched an initiative that allows threatened human rights activists from around the world – including journalists – to take shelter in Germany.

In the Alliance for Multilateralism, we have built a “Partnership for Information and Democracy” that addresses infodemics and fights manipulation online and offline.

And with our friends and partners in the Media Freedom Campaign, we will continue our support to independent journalism, and we will call out those who attack the free press.

The presence of us all today is proof of our commitment to the fight for media freedom. And thereby to safeguard our health, our right to fact-based information and our own freedom of opinion.

Thank you!


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