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Journalism and Covid-19: Press freedom is essential in times of crisis

Joint statement by Council of Europe Secretary General and German Federal Justice Minister
Council of Europe Strasbourg 3 May 2021
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Journalism and Covid-19: Press freedom is essential in times of crisis

In a joint statement to mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, and the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection of Germany, Christine Lambrecht, representing the German Presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, have expressed their concern about attacks on journalists and limitations to press freedom in many parts of Europe. 

“The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights to which all 47 Council of Europe member states – including the 27 members of the European Union – have committed themselves.

In a democracy, journalists play a vital role in uncovering the truth and holding those in power to account. Their job is to ensure that citizens receive timely, accurate and reliable information, which has become even more important in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The media should be free to scrutinise and criticise the response of the public authorities to the crisis. However, as a new report by civil society organisations working with the Council of Europe confirms, many journalists are in fact facing increasing obstructions to fulfilling this important role during the pandemic. 

Unfortunately, we have also witnessed an increasing number of attacks and threats against journalists covering public demonstrations. This is unacceptable. It is more important than ever for journalists to be able to report freely and safely.

Promoting freedom of expression across Europe is a key aim of the Council of Europe, of which Germany currently holds the Presidency. As Europe gradually emerges from the pandemic, all governments must work to make our joint commitment to freedom of expression even stronger and crisis-proof in future.”


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