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Statement by Media Freedom Coalition on World Press Freedom Day

May 3, 2022

Today, we, members of the Media Freedom Coalition, honour the courage of all journalists and media workers, especially those who report from conflict and war zones, on corruption and on government and corporate abuses, both online and offline.

The right to freedom of expression as exercised by journalists and media is fundamental to the protection and promotion of democracy, all human rights and freedoms and the rule of law. Free, independent, and pluralistic media both online and offline is crucial for a democratic society to make informed decisions, hold governments, institutions and individuals accountable and hear a diversity of opinions. Being able to work in safety allows journalists to fulfill their crucial role of being a source of objective and unbiased information.

As the world responds to various conflicts around the globe, a free press and its ability to access means of reporting, including digital methods, have never been more important.  Media workers on the frontlines play a critical role in reporting and documenting the realities and impacts of conflict and corruption, as well as war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and human rights violations and abuses, as they are often the first witnesses to history.

Many states continue to suppress and censor the media; they also arrest, intimidate, harass and kill journalists and media workers whose vital contributions allow the world to glimpse the situation on the ground and to take action based on the information these brave individuals have provided. Women journalists are particularly at risk of marginalization and are targeted disproportionally by harassment and violence. In many cases, states also do not investigate threats of killing, violence and attacks against journalists and media workers, which emboldens the perpetrators of crimes and has a further chilling effect on society, as well as on the exercise of freedom of expression.

Coupled with the physical danger that journalists and other media workers face, global changes in media business models have placed independent journalism institutions into a financially precarious state, causing what some observers have called a “media extinction event” with the shuttering of media outlets around the world that deliver vital informational services to their communities. This concerning trend threatens to deny persons across the globe access to information and hobble their ability to hold powerful actors to account.  This is having a disproportionate impact on persons belonging to marginalized groups due to the intersecting discrimination they face.

Today and every day, we call on states to end repression of the media and media workers.  We call on states to cease efforts to hinder reporting through legislation that limits access to the Internet, that threatens incarceration for reporting the truth and that allows strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) to harass and intimidate media organizations and workers. 

We call on governments, private sector actors, and individuals to come together to develop viable solutions to strengthen critical institutions of journalism and support a resilient and viable independent media sector.

The Media Freedom Coalition, calls on all countries to counter threats to media freedom and take actions at a national level and the international level to ensure the right to freedom of expression is upheld – including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art or through any other media of choice.

We recall that the annual UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Global Conference is currently taking place in Punta del Este, Uruguay, under the theme Journalism Under Digital Siege while highlighting that it provides an opportunity to develop concrete recommendations to address new challenges connected with the digital era.

We applaud those governments that have taken decisive steps to strengthen the protection of media freedom.

We remain united and committed to promoting media freedom and standing against any efforts to undermine it.

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belize, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, the United States.

Contact

Global Affairs Canada
media@international.gc.ca
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