European Interest

Press freedom is central to EU human rights policy, stress MEPs


Leading MEPs highlight the importance of freedom of the press as a cornerstone of human rights. “We must defend it worldwide”, say Udo Bullmann and Isabel Wiseler-Lima.

On the 30th anniversary of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2023, the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) Chair Udo Bullmann (S&D, Germany) said:

“Press freedom worldwide continues to be in danger. In 2023, at least seven journalists and media workers were killed and 560 are in prison. In times of multiple crises and conflict, brave journalists and media workers are strongly needed to report, expose and give a voice to the most vulnerable. We must therefore put into law and practice an enabling environment, in which journalists can perform their work independently without interference or fear of persecution. The safety of journalists is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression, it is at the heart of democracy and key to countering disinformation. The International Press Freedom Day is therefore an occasion for us to remember the importance of a free press, which is a core element of our human rights policy.”

“As 2023 marks the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, DROI subcommittee stands firm in its commitment to protect and support journalists worldwide. Safeguarding their safety and independence means not only ensuring every citizen the right to be properly informed, but also preserving the foundations of a democratic society,” stressed Human Rights Subcommittee Rapporteur on the safety of journalists Isabel Wiseler-Lima (EPP LU).

World Press Freedom Day was established by UNESCO through the Windhoek Declaration to remind governments worldwide of their obligations to promote and protect freedom of the press. Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism are enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as in the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Parliament is committed to defending media freedom and to honouring journalists who have been injured or have lost their lives in the course of their work. Concerns about the decline in the freedom of the press and the wider context of the freedom of expression have been voiced repeatedly by the DROI Subcommittee and the European Parliament through resolutions, including urgency resolutions adopted during plenary sessions.

The Subcommittee on Human Rights is currently working on a report “The protection of journalists around the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter”. The vote in the Committee on Foreign Affairs is scheduled for 24 May 2023.

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