World Press Freedom Day, 03 May 2017
Message of European Parliament President Antonio Tajani
Genuine democracy cannot exist without media freedom.
As a former journalist, I know that being able to work independently is essential. Without this freedom there cannot be political scrutiny, transparency, fight again corruption, good governance, freedom of decision.
For this reason, the European Union is the strongest defender of this fundamental right all over the world.
Unfortunately, Reporters Without Borders warns that media freedom is under threat like never before! According to several reports, journalists are being intimidated – not just in authoritarian regimes – but also in countries that are usually regarded as democratic.
In our immediate proximity, Turkey has allegedly become the “world’s biggest prison for the media profession”. According to the Stockholm Centre for Freedom around two hundred journalists were jailed and one hundred and fifty media outlets were shut down in the aftermath of last year’s coup.
Many journalists are in jail and oppressed in China, Russia, Belarus, and countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
The European Parliament will always defend those exposing injustice, condemning any and all attempts to censor journalists!
I therefore once again, call for the immediate release not only of the German Turkish journalist Deniz Yücsel, but all those unjustly detained around the world for doing their jobs.
When we consider press freedom we also have to look at the internet. It is a source of knowledge as much as it is a source of concern. Almost half of all Europeans get their news from social media. This has made spreading fake news far too easy. There are mounting concerns over disinformation and hate speech, used to promote radicalisation and fundamentalism, particularly among young people.
Together with journalists, bound by ethical guidelines, we must promote a greater accountability of online platforms.
Today, we must remember and pay tribute to all journalists who have died or been jailed for their commitment to providing citizens with facts.
Their freedom is key to making the world a better place. Today I want you to know that you are not alone in this fight. The European Parliament will always be on your side.