European Union External Action

World Press Freedom Day: EU condemns violence against journalists and media

03/05/2018 - 08:30
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Freedom of expression and freedom of the press continue to be threatened worldwide. More than 800 journalists around the world were killed for bringing news and information to the public, over the past decade. The recent murders of Ján Kuciak and Daphne Caruana Galizia are a worrying sign that in some EU Member States, journalists' safety and media freedom is deteriorating. On World Press Freedom day, the EU reaffirms its determination to keep protecting and promoting freedom of opinion and of expression as rights to be exercised by everyone everywhere.

"Attacks against media and journalists are attacks against democracy, against the freedom of all of us," High Representative Federica Mogherini said in a Declaration on behalf of the EU marking World Press Freedom Day. "We pay tribute to all journalists in Europe and worldwide who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. We call on all states to condemn violence against journalists, to take action to improve the safety of journalists with particular attention to women journalists, and to bring perpetrators and instigators of such violence to justice."

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993. The theme chosen by the UN for this year's World Press Freedom day is ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’ to highlight the importance of an enabling legal environment for press freedom, and gives special attention to the role of an independent judiciary in ensuring legal guarantees for press freedom and the prosecution of crimes against journalists. At the same time, the theme addresses the role of the media in sustainable development, especially during elections - as a regulator fostering transparency, accountability and the rule of law.

Respect for freedom of expression is integrated in all EU policies and development programmes. The EU programme Media4Democracy supports EU Delegations in the implementation of the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline. For example in Tanzania the EU is carrying out an intensive programme that will select leaders of media institutions to help build inclusive, professional and gender-sensitive institutions. The aim is to respond to the challenges and opportunities to advance media pluralism in Tanzania.

The EU will consistently condemn violence against journalists and oppose any legislation, regulation or political pressure that limits freedom of expression, thus protecting the rights of journalists, bloggers, and human rights defenders, based on the principles of equality, non-discrimination and universality, through any media, online or offline, within our borders and beyond.

2018 is an important year for human rights, as we mark the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 is about freedom of expression. It reads "Everyone has the right to think and say what they like and no one should forbid it. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek receive and impart information and ideas though any media and regardless of frontiers." Journalists, bloggers and Human Rights Defenders are no exception, and the EU will therefore continue to fight for their rights.         


Photo: Flickr/Jennifer Moo