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Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on World Press Freedom Day (3 May)

02.05.2018 - Press release

Foreign Minister Maas issued the following statement today (2 May) on World Press Freedom Day on 3 May:

Tomorrow is not the only day on which we should call to mind the many journalists around the world who put their freedom, health, and often their lives on the line in their work. Journalists play an important role in the protection of our democracy. Freedom of the press is the foundation of democratic societies around the world.

Thanks to the free press, responsible citizens are able to obtain comprehensive information and form their own opinions – which is a prerequisite for getting involved in the political process and subjecting governments to scrutiny. Democracy thrives on the participation of the many – without information, opinion and debate, democracy is inconceivable. What is more, we need the supervisory function of a free and courageous press, one that helps to trigger debates and uncover injustices.

Freedom of the press is of fundamental importance for our democratic society. Exercising this right is often dangerous for media professionals and their families. Around the world, critical journalists are being imprisoned, maltreated and murdered while critical media outlets are being censored, harassed and banned. A number of journalists have been handed long prison sentences for going about their work in recent days. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who provide an important service to society through their journalistic work under the most difficult conditions, sometimes putting their lives on the line. We owe it to them to stand up for their security and for the freedom of the press.

Commitment to human rights is a focus of our policy, in the Human Rights Council in Geneva, in the OSCE and – should our candidacy meet with success – also in the Security Council. Germany supports the freedom of the press around the world with numerous projects and is committed to this issue in international bodies.

This goes for both print and electronic media as human rights apply both online and offline. Effective freedom of the press protects not only the journalists themselves, but also their working methods. This includes ensuring the secrecy of their communications, a key focus of the resolution on the protection of privacy, which Germany has successfully enshrined in the United Nations human rights system since 2013 and is currently continuing to promote as Chair of the Freedom Online Coalition.

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