Media Freedom Coalition Statement on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine and Assault on Media Freedom
March 10, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition strongly condemn Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked and unjustifiable war against Ukraine with the participation of Belarus. We reiterate our staunch support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and for the people of Ukraine. As the situation rapidly deteriorates, we are seriously concerned that the Russian Federation is completely supressing journalists and media workers from reporting on events that are taking place on the ground in order to control the information space, including through Russian disinformation. The same applies to Belarus, which supports Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and continues to further exacerbate the already extremely troubling situation for media freedom in their country.
The Kremlin is throttling or blocking access to many social media platforms. It is also blocking the websites of many of the few remaining Russian independent media outlets. The BBC, TV5 Monde, CBC/Radio-Canada, CNN, CBS, ABC News, Bloomberg, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and others are moved to suspend their operations in Russia due to new legislation that criminalizes any individual or organization accused of sharing what Russia views as “fake news” about Russia’s war in Ukraine. While media organizations may decide to re-commence their reporting from Russia, they do so in the face of ongoing risk posed by the new law. We strongly condemn Russia for passing this repressive law that unduly restricts journalists and media workers from carrying out their vital, independent, work.
Putin’s campaign of intimidation and repression against journalists and media workers is aimed at preventing the people of Russia from accessing accurate and independent information about the illegal and reprehensible acts being perpetrated in their name against Ukraine. Free access to information is important to the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
We also strongly condemn Russia’s longstanding use of coordinated disinformation campaigns against Ukraine, most recently, to create false pretexts to attempt to justify their illegal and immoral acts and to conceal the atrocities they are committing. The ongoing efforts by the Kremlin to muzzle local journalists and foreign correspondents providing fact-based coverage of the war are a violation of international human rights law.
Therefore, the Media Freedom Coalition welcomes the steps already taken by online platforms and calls to take further action to prevent state-sponsored disinformation, including that propagated by Russia Today and Sputnik, and the sanctions adopted by many governments against the individuals in charge of these Russian state-media.
Independent media has a crucial role in all societies. Journalists and media workers must be allowed to safely carry out their work, particularly in times of conflict. We condemn attacks on journalists, including the brutal killing of a Ukrainian TV station LIVE cameraman following a Russian airstrike on a TV broadcast tower in Kyiv, as well as the attacks on journalists of the Sky News, Ekstra Bladet, RSF, Alaraby TV, and other media outlets. We call on Russia to immediately end the brutal crackdown on independent media and to respect the rights of journalists and media workers in accordance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law. We call out all violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including attacks on journalists and media outlets. These cannot be tolerated.
We stand with journalists and media workers who, at great personal risk and sacrifice, work to bring Russia’s human rights violations and abuses to light. We commend their professionalism and resilience to ensure the free flow of independent information despite the most challenging circumstances.
Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.
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