Freedom of expression, in all its forms, is the very essence of democracy. Only with a thriving, free and independent media landscape, we can hold governments, businesses and society at large accountable. And precisely for this fundamental right, far too often, journalists and media workers are attacked, persecuted, harassed, or intimidated for carrying out their work. Most journalists are not wounded in the heat of war coverage, but suffer violence in our immediate surroundings. In 2018 alone, 94 journalists and media staff were killed in work-related incidents as reported by the International Federation of Journalists. Hundreds more have been subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention without ever having been tried in a court.
The European Union, together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration, will co-host the International solidarity conference on the Venezuelan refugee and migrant crisis on 28-29 October in Brussels.
It is estimated that, so far, approximately 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled as a result of the political turmoil, socio-economic instability and humanitarian crisis in their country.
The European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe firmly oppose the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances. The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment contrary to the right to life. The death penalty means revenge, not justice, and its abolition contributes to the enhancement of human dignity.
The partnership between the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean is based on close historical, cultural ties and shared values and aspirations, such as commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the search for sustainable development for a prosperous, inclusive society committed to respecting the environment and fighting climate change. Over the years, the two parties have progressively built a relationship based on mutual respect and open dialogue.
On the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, the European Union reaffirms its commitment towards democracy as a fundamental right of every human being. Every woman and every man has to be free to participate to the political, economic and social life of her or his country. No one should fear to speak up, to demonstrate peacefully, to go to vote or to expect fair and inclusive policies from a government. Democracy can only function if participation and trust between democratic state institutions, governments and citizens are guaranteed.
On this first International Day commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief, we pay tribute to all those around the world who lost their lives and suffered attacks because of their religion or belief. Persecution as a response to religious belief or affiliation, or lack thereof, is a violation of international law and requires joint work to combat it.