Opening speech: Axelle Nicaise, Ambassador of the European Union to Mongolia

 “Knowing the truth is Protecting the Truth”

On the occasion of International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists 

Date: 2 November 2022

Venue: “Open Society Forum” meeting hall

Ladies and gentlemen,

Journalists play a fundamental role in the functioning of democracies; the information they provide is important for our choices, whether related to health or elections, and affects our viewpoints. 

A free and independent press holds leaders accountable, protects the rights of citizens, and ensures our communities are well informed. 

Their influence – and the responsibility that comes with it – cannot be overstated.

Impunity for crimes against journalists and media workers sends to the public the particularly harmful message that the perpetrators are untouchable and that the institutions do not have an interest in shedding light on the crimes perpetrated.

On this international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists, the European Union confirms that combatting impunity is an objective that guides our internal and external action.

While war zones are not the only places where journalists come under attack, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine we have mobilised efforts to ensure support for journalists who continue to shed light on atrocities perpetrated. Russian forces are detaining, abducting or kidnapping and targeting journalists and civil society actors to prevent the world from hearing the truth. 

Brave journalists, camera crews, reporters, photographers and bloggers are risking their lives to keep us informed about Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine.

The European Union has a clear commitment to defend media pluralism and media freedom worldwide. We have always been clear on the key role of unrestricted media and civil society and the need to protect human rights defenders, many of whom are journalists.

We provide support and legal assistance via the EU-funded mechanism for Human Rights Defenders, a network that delivers fast response to human rights defenders under threat, including journalists. In 2021, this mechanism supported around 550 journalists worldwide and, in the past three years, the programme directly supported via grant-making and financial support no less than 206 journalists from those three countries alone, as well as 9 media outlets.

Like many Delegation we have identified freedom of expression, media freedom and safety or journalists among the key priorities of the Human Rights Country Strategy 2021-2024.  

The EU - Mongolia Political and Human Rights Dialogues play an essential to raise our concerns on press freedom/safety of journalists. 

Journalists need an environment where they are able to work in safety and security without fear of harassment, political pressure, censorship or persecution. Legal systems must protect media and journalists all around the world so that they can fulfil their work in full independence. In a time where disinformation is on the rise, the safety of journalists must be guaranteed to allow them to promote accurate reporting for the benefit and in the interests of all our citizens.

Today, as we honour those whose work is essential to preserve our fundamental right of free speech and democracy, I encourage each and every one of you to let your voices to be heard. No price should be paid for speaking the truth!