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On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists stands firm in its unwavering dedication to the principles of a free, independent, and pluralistic press, and to ensuring the safety and protection of the journalists and media workers worldwide. We recognize that attacks against journalists and media workers not only harm the individuals targeted, but also have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and access to information.

The international community is currently witnessing increasing threats to press freedom around the world through deteriorating safety situations, repressive media trends, and shrinking space for civil society.

The increase in disinformation and polarizing discourse threatens democracy and press freedom, as do fierce attacks on factual reporting both online and offline – all of which contribute to the erosion of public trust in established political systems and news outlets. Disinformation, attempts to abuse the legal system to silence journalists and media workers, as well as intimidation, harassment and violence against them, their families and their employers, pose a growing threat to the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Truth is threatened by disinformation and hate speech seeking to blur the lines between fact and fiction, between science and conspiracy.

Women journalists bear a disproportionate burden of being exposed to hate speech and hate crimes, often experiencing online harassment and abuse, threats, and acts of physical or sexual violence simply for doing their job.

Women journalists play a critical role in promoting freedom of expression and access to information. They provide unique perspectives and insights that are essential for inclusive and diverse media coverage. However, the attacks and abuse they face undermine their ability to carry out their work effectively and safely.

The Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists recognizes the unique challenges faced by women journalists and media workers. We are committed to promoting gender equality and empowering women in the media sector. We support efforts to strengthen legal and institutional frameworks to protect women journalists and media workers from all forms of violence, harassment, and discrimination.

This year, the theme of World Press Freedom Day 2023 is “Shaping a Future of Rights. Freedom of Expression as a driver for all other human rights.”

A free and independent and pluralistic media is a cornerstone of democratic governance. A free press serves as a watchdog, exposing abuses of power, corruption, and human rights violations. It plays an essential role in identifying and promoting accountability for human rights violations and abuses and holds those in positions of authority to account. Journalists and media workers play a crucial role in the flow of information, opinions, and ideas and are indispensable to building inclusive and tolerant societies, fortifying intercultural dialogue, as well as understanding and cooperation. Their work helps to promote transparency, accountability, and the rule of law, and provides a vital check on abuses of power and human rights violations.

The Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists values the contribution of all journalists and media workers and their courage to risk their freedom and lives for independent reporting. We remain fully committed to supporting them in their mission. Their work is essential in ensuring that citizens are informed and empowered, and that those in positions of power are held accountable for their actions.

This year, as we celebrate not only the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, but also the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Conference and its Declaration and Programme of Action on Human Rights, the Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists joins UNESCO in its call to recenter press freedom, as well as independent, pluralistic and diverse media, as key to the enjoyment of all other human rights.

The Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists remains more determined than ever to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of journalists and media workers, including through the implementation of the resolutions on the protection of journalists as well as the United Nations Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists.

The member states of the Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists remain firmly committed to promote and respect freedom of expression, media freedom and independence of the media.

The Group continues and will continue to work closely with all UN entities, media representatives, academia and NGOs in this issue. We reaffirm our strong support to the efforts of UNESCO and international and local organizations to promote the protection of journalists, their rights and freedoms – and to all Member States promoting a safe environment in which journalists can exercise their profession without fear of reprisals.

This includes supporting initiatives to strengthen legal and regulatory frameworks to protect freedom of expression and access to information, as well as efforts to enhance the safety of journalists and media workers. We recognize that promoting a safe environment for journalists requires the active participation of all member states. We call on all member states to take concrete steps to promote freedom of expression and protect journalists and media workers from attacks and harassment. Today, as we also honor journalists imprisoned and killed in the line of duty, we take stock of press freedom as well as the safety and security of journalists around the world. This includes ensuring that perpetrators of attacks against journalists are held accountable for their actions.