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50th Session of the Human Rights Council

Joint Statement delivered during Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression by Austria on behalf of GoF of Journalists, 24 June 2022

Thank you,

I deliver this statement on behalf of the Geneva Group of Friends on the safety of Journalists. We express our sincere appreciation for the Special Rapporteur's work and for the presentation of her very timely report.

Our Group is gravely concerned about the decline of media freedom and the rise in threats to the safety of journalists and media workers across the globe, with severe negative consequences for human rights, the resilience of democracy, the rule of law, and development more broadly.

While digital technologies have enabled ground-breaking investigative reporting, new models of cross-border collaboration as well as positive consequences for the right to access to information, they have also given rise to unprecedented challenges for journalists and media outlets, aggravating existing threats and creating new ones. Targeted surveillance, disinformation campaigns and online attacks, in particular against women journalists, are only a few markers of this sobering development.

We strongly condemn the increased level of intimidation, harassment, and violence that journalists, media workers and other civil society actors engaged in informing the public face in many countries across the world, including in situations of armed conflict. According to Reporters without borders, 31 journalists have already been killed since January 1st, 2022.

Our Group condemns in the strongest terms the killings of journalists around the world, including the recent cases of Shireen Abu Akleh in the Palestinian city of Jenin and of Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff during bombardment in Ukraine. It is essential that immediate, thorough, transparent, fair and impartial investigations clarify all the circumstances of these incidents as soon as possible and that accountability is ensured.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of journalists, we call on all Member States to build a safer and more enabling environment for journalists and media workers, and protect the right of every individual to reliable, and, often, lifesaving information.

I thank you.

Argentina, Austria, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, France, Greece, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, Netherlands, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Sweden, Tunisia, United Kingdom

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