Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day (3 May)
Standing up and fighting for a free press is a task for each and every one of us. People need free and independent information – without it, democracies cannot function.
The work of journalists is even more important in the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has also become much more difficult. Journalists face repression on a massive scale in many of the world’s countries. Their work is being restricted under the pretext of fighting the pandemic, while debates are being suppressed and misinformation is propagated.
Today, we remember all those who have lost their lives while going about their journalistic work. In the past year alone, over 50 media professionals were killed, still more arrested and harassed or even made to suffer torture.
Journalism is not a crime and must not be a life-threatening undertaking. We have to work to ensure this if information is to be a public good.
The United Nations is marking this year’s World Press Freedom Day with the slogan “Information as a Public Good”. According to information from NGOs such as Reporters Without Borders, at least 46 journalists and five media employees and bloggers around the world lost their lives while going about their work last year. Four hundred were imprisoned.
With the Elisabeth Selbert Initiative, Germany is helping human rights activists, including media professionals, to find protection in Germany.
Germany has also worked in the Alliance for Multilateralism to support an International Partnership for Information and Democracy and, together with over 40 signatories, supports a declaration that sets out clear objectives and principles for guaranteeing a free press. They include not only rejecting manipulation using misinformation and government interference in the media, but also the active protection of journalists as well as strengthening the economic viability of news media.