On this World Press Freedom Day, my thoughts go first and foremost to Lucas Deloga, Gilles Jacquier and Rémi Ochlik, the French journalists and photographers killed in recent months while reporting in Tunisia and Syria, as well as to their family and friends. I wanted the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs to pay tribute to them by presenting their most symbolic photos of the Arab Spring and their democratic aspirations on the France diplomatie website.
This day also gives me an opportunity to reaffirm that France is strongly mobilized, in Paris and in Bogota, to secure the release of France 24’s Roméo Langlois, who has been held hostage since Saturday.
Last year, according to figures provided by Reporters Without Borders, around 66 journalists were killed, while about a thousand were arrested and imprisoned.
I want to pay tribute to all those journalists who give their lives or their freedom to carry out a profession that is often dangerous, in order to uncover the truth in countries that have been torn apart by violent conflict or are under the grip of dictators.
We must also commend the courage of all those throughout the world who risk their lives to defend the basic human right of press freedom and freedom of expression, while violations of this universal, essential right persist in many countries.
The freedom to exercise the profession of journalism is a priority of our human rights policy. Indeed, everyone knows that the first instinct of the enemies of freedom is to silence the press, and that the freedom fighters’ greatest ally is the free media. France is in this respect especially vigilant with respect to the freedom of cyberspace.
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, I would like to mention that France is organizing a panel discussion on the protection of journalists in armed conflict at the UN Headquarters in New York, in partnership with Greece and UNESCO.
Mr. Andrei Netto, a Paris correspondent for the Brazilian daily newspaper, O Estado de São Paulo, who was arrested and detained in Libya in February 2011 by a pro-Qaddafi militia group, will describe his experiences, together with Carolyn Cole, a Los Angeles Times photographer, and Adrees Latif (Pakistan), the Pullitzer Prize-winning Reuters photographer.
Several leading NGO figures, notably from the Committee to Protect Journalists and the ICRC, as well as UN humanitarian agencies, will lend their expertise.
Learn more on the protection of journalists in armed conflict.