Media Freedom Coalition Statement on Transnational Repression of Journalists and Media Workers

The undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition express their concern about the increasing acts of transnational repression directed at journalists and media workers.

Journalists and media workers play an indispensable role in fostering the free flow of information in open and informed societies, hold governments to account and expose malpractices. Worryingly, they are increasingly targeted by governments who wish to stifle critical voices and the reporting of facts, and silence freedom of expression even beyond their borders. Journalists are deterred from reporting inconvenient truths even if they are not taking a specific stance. This trend poses a significant threat not only to journalists, media workers and their families, but also to the fundamental principles of democracy, good governance and human rights.

Tactics of transnational repression include assassinations, detentions, forcible return, defamation, physical and digital harassment and threats, the misuse of surveillance technology including commercial intrusion software (sometimes referred to as spyware), and coercion by proxy, among others. Often, traditional methods of transnational repression are used together with newer digital forms of transnational repression.  

Developments in digital technologies have given governments new tools to be misused to control, silence and punish journalists for critical reporting from abroad. These tactics include digital attacks via malware, online harassment, smear campaigns, misuse of surveillance, and disinformation. Journalists in vulnerable situations may face particularly abusive and dehumanising forms of harassment. Women journalists and media workers are disproportionately targeted by degrading, misogynistic and sexually violent intimidation and harassment.

Transnational repression raises the cost of reporting, pushing journalists and media workers towards self-censorship. The effect created by these repressive measures may deter journalists from investigating and reporting on crucial issues and hinders the free flow of information. Transnational repression not only silences critical voices, but also undermines the fundamental role of a free and independent media as a check and balance for informed decision making and as a critical tool to hold powerful actors accountable by laying bare corruption, injustice and other wrongdoing.

The Media Freedom Coalition calls upon governments to meet their obligations under international human rights law, to cease and counter transnational repression, and protect journalists and media workers against human rights violations and abuses.

Signed: 

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belize
Botswana
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czechia
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Guyana
Honduras
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Kosovo
Latvia
Lebanon
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Montenegro
North Macedonia
Norway
Portugal
Republic of Korea
Serbia
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
the Netherlands
the United Kingdom
the United States
Ukraine
Uruguay

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