Video address by Federal Foreign Minster Heiko Maas at the World Press Freedom Conference

09.12.2020 - Speech

Independent journalism and a free press are essential to our pluralist societies. They are a pillar of democracy.

However, media freedom is today facing many threats.

Especially dangerous is violence against journalists.

In too many places, critical journalists are being harassed, attacked, or put in prison.

And despite numbers going down, there were still 57 journalists murdered in 2019 according to UNESCO.

The vast majority of such crimes against journalists go unpunished.

Therefore, we need to push for credible investigations into crimes against journalists. And we need to hold accountable those who commit such crimes:

That is why the Global Media Defence Fund launched by the Media Freedom Coalition and administered by UNESCO is so important.

We have become a supporter this year, and we stand ready to continue our engagement in the future.

In Germany, we have launched an initiative that allows threatened human rights activists from around the world – including journalists – to take shelter in Germany.

And in the European Union, we have recently adopted the new Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime. It will target individuals responsible for serious human rights violations worldwide. This includes abuses against journalists and other representatives of the free press.

Dear friends,

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, free media have been supporting public health.

But for much longer than that, they have been protecting the health of free societies.

That is why we must continue supporting press freedom – to promote “journalism without fear or favour”.

Thank you!


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