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MFA Statement on the Occasion of the World Press Freedom Day

 

Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, the World Press Freedom Day is observed annually on May 3. Freedom of speech and independent media are vital for good governance, informed decision-making and accountability of governments. Current coronavirus crisis only reasserts the importance of independent media by clearly showing how the population benefits from accurate and timely information that can even save lives. Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to express its gratitude to all brave journalists and media professionals and to reassure them of the continuous support of the Czech Republic.

“In number of countries journalists are still facing censorship, intimidation, personal attacks, systemic persecution and various forms of violence while perpetrators remain unpunished”, pointed out Tomáš Petříček, Minister of Foreign Affairs at the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day. The autocratic governments are trying to misuse the pandemic as a pretext to further curtail the access to information and to persecute the independent voices. We are also witnessing disinformation campaigns trying to distort the truth about the origins of the pandemic and to undermine the response of democratic societies. Moreover, many independent outlets face severe financial constraints with the economic situation getting dire across the regions.

“The Czech Republic as an active member of the international Media Freedom Coalition is well aware of the importance of the independent media both generally and in these difficult times. It remains determined to support them in fulfilling their unique role”, added Minister Petříček. That support would be unconceivable without the cooperation with the Czech NGOs and the international media organizations based in Prague such as Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs values these partnerships greatly and is constantly looking for new opportunities to develop them further.

The MFA distributes more than 1 million Euros every year on projects aiming at direct support to independent media, as well as media literacy, training of journalists and initiatives disclosing fake news. It supports activities of the Council of Europe or the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. The MFA also closely cooperates with European Endowment for Democracy and participates in other international initiatives promoting independent media. The MFA therefore welcomes a launch of the first ever UNESCO call for the Global Media Defence Fund, which the Czech Republic supported also financially.

Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirms its strong support for journalists, bloggers and other media professionals who despite all the odds remain committed to provide independent fact-based reporting to the public. Their work is vital for all of us.

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