World Press Freedom Day celebrated in Brussels as Difference Day
Sunday, 02 May 2021
At a time when independent and free media reporting is more essential than ever, press freedom continues to be under threat.
In a declaration ahead of World Press Freedom Day on Monday, EU High Representative Josep Borrell states that journalists continue to experience harsh working conditions with increasing financial and political pressure, surveillance, arbitrary prison sentences or violence for doing their work.
According to the UNESCO Observatory, 76 journalists were killed since 2020, while many more were arrested, harassed or threatened worldwide. Of particular concern is gender-based violence targeting women journalists.
“Press freedom is a fundamental value for the European Union underpinned by many recent initiatives. Media freedom and the safety of journalists are key priorities of the new Human Rights and Democracy Action Plan and of the European Democracy Action Plan.”
In 2020, more than 400 journalists benefited from the EU mechanism for protection of Human Rights Defenders, while the EU took important actions to support journalists, independent media and the fight against disinformation in the context of the pandemic in many regions.
The EU is determined to do more, in Europe and abroad, the declaration continues. The EU will continue coordinating with international organisations and mechanisms and pioneer new approaches. One example is the European Commission’s proposal for a Digital Services Act aimed at holding the major platforms accountable to make their systems fairer, safer and more transparent.
EU will also continue its action to counter disinformation and seek with all partners effective means to support sustainable business models for independent media.
“Press freedom means security for all,” the declaration concludes.
The World Press Freedom Day on 3 May was declared by United Nations General Assembly in 1993. The day raises awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and reminds governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Freedom of expression implies the respect for opinions of others. In Brussels the day is commemorated annually as Difference Day because it recognises the difference in people and their convictions.
“To celebrate freedom of expression is to celebrate diversity,” the Free University of Brussels and other organisers of Difference Day in Brussels stated. In the past, investigative journalism has been in the focus of the event. This year the attention is drawn to women journalists behind the news and on the front line.