Speech/statement | Date: 09/12/2020
By Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide (9 December)
Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide's statement at the World Press Freedom Conference 2020 – a ministerial roundtable on the safety of Journalists and the issue of impunity.
Organisers of the World Press Freedom Conference, colleagues.
One of the first things I do in the morning is to turn on the radio and to check for news updates on my phone. My guess is that many of you do exactly the same.
We rely on professional journalists and media agencies to bring us the latest updates on current events. And we depend on the reliability of these news reports.
The importance of free and independent media cannot be overstated. Their role as watchdog and in disseminating knowledge and ideas is critical for the development of our societies and for enabling individuals to assert their rights.
Nevertheless, journalists and media workers across the world face serious risks while performing their job. They are exposed to harassment, threats, violence – and all too often – fatal attacks. They face unlawful arrest and detention. This is unacceptable. We must commit to fighting these injustices and we must end impunity for crimes against journalists.
Norway is at the top of the 2020 World Press Freedom Index. We are proud of this. But we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent. Not at home. And not abroad.
Worldwide, freedom of speech and independent media are coming under increasing pressure.
At the same time, new digital platforms have fundamentally changed the framework for free and open sharing of information and opinions. This has also given rise to concerns about online security and control.
This is why the Norwegian Government has set up a national commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the position of freedom of speech in Norway today. Part of the commission’s mandate is to consider measures to improve online security and the safety of journalists.
When it comes to our global engagement, we have decided to update our strategy for promoting freedom of expression and independent media at the international level.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to recognise and express our support for the important work being done by Unesco to protect journalists and press freedom.
Let us all stand up for freedom of expression and journalism without fear or favour.