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Udenrigsministerens tale til World Press Freedom Day 2019

34. That is the number of journalists killed in 2018 in reprisal for their work. 
 
34 people, murdered for doing their job. For trying to shed light on critical situations. For asking difficult questions and for insisting on holding accountable political leaders all over the world.

At the same time, the number of journalists facing detention, abuse or other consequences is rising. Far too many journalists pay an unacceptable price for exercising their freedom of speech. For doing their job. 
 
Freedom of speech and a free press is an essential building block for any democracy. For holding leaders accountable. And for ensuring a population that is enlightened, critical and able to participate in society.

So when journalists around the world are threatened on their lives – or worse - we must act. Unfortunately, in many areas of the world we are witnessing the opposite trend:
The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year was a terrible crime. It was also an unacceptable assault on democracy, freedom of expression and a free press. 

In Turkey, the development in recent years has also taken a wrong turn. The increase in arrests of human rights activists, journalists, academics and members of parliament is disturbing.

In Myanmar, the Supreme Court recently upheld the sentencing of two Reuters journalists, who were sentenced to seven years in jail after investigating the killing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine State. That these two journalists today are awarded the UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize sends a strong signal.
 
The fight for press freedom is not one that journalists should fight alone. Politicians, lawmakers, civil society, opinion makers – we all have a responsibility to speak up. To clearly and firmly deny those that would oppress free speech. To consistently denounce all violence against journalists. 

I commend UNESCO’s Director General for issuing condemnations each and every time a journalist is killed. 

The work for free and independent media is an integral part of Denmark’s longstanding commitment to support human rights and to develop civil society.

One of the ways we do this is through our partnership with International Media Support. IMS together with the UN organizations works tirelessly to promote press freedom in countries affected by conflict across the world.

In Pakistan, IMS helps journalists in danger with protection and safety. In Somalia, IMS supports the independent media-network, Kalfadhi, with a view to improving the knowledge regarding the work of the country’s young Parliament. In Ghana and Sierra Leone, IMS promotes a dialogue between journalists and security forces in the police and military. These efforts all help to pave the way for good journalism and fundamental freedoms. 

Denmark is currently a member of the UN Human Rights Council. In February, I had the opportunity to address the Council for the first time. I used this opportunity to voice our commitment to promote fundamental freedoms and respect for human rights and to call for the freedom of speech and protection of journalists globally.

In November, Denmark and 15 other OSCE countries took the initiative to appoint an independent, international rapporteur to investigate reports of human rights violations and abuses against LGBTI-persons, journalists and human rights defenders in Chechnya.

And through the EU, Denmark supports concrete projects on press freedom -  for example in Turkey. Just last month, a Press House opened in Ankara, which offers a safe environment as well as equipment and support for journalists who contribute to media pluralism.

Good governance is a precondition for opening up civic space and ensuring freedom of press and the freedom of journalists. Therefore, Denmark supports the UNDP’s important work on strengthening effective, inclusive and accountable governance. As well as the essential work of UNESCO on the joint UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
 
During the last decade, new challenges have arisen due to technological developments. In particular, the internet and social media have given us a new playing field. Social media platforms provide unprecedented space for global, instant and direct communication.
These platforms are not governed by the same rules as traditional media. This creates new challenges. The effect of misinformation and fake news when unfiltered, mass distributed and targeted based on advanced algorithms is daunting.
 
And it is especially alarming if states deliberately use their resources to invent stories or to create campaigns with the intention of manipulating democratic processes.

It is alarming because of the effect it can have on democratic processes. But it is also alarming because it undermines trust in the media. So we need to work together – governments, media and online platforms – to prevent this, while at the same time never losing sight of the importance of the independence of media and fundamental rights such freedom of expression. 
 
World Press Freedom Day is important. It is a day where we pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty. But it is also a day which reminds us that there is work to be done and that we must do it together.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Freedom of expression and a free press cannot be taken for granted. And we cannot expect that others will lead the battle. Thank you for being part of the struggle.
 
I would like to end with a salute to the brave men and women, who insist on speaking up. May your voices never be silenced.