New support for press freedom at international conference hosted by foreign minister Stef Blok

More than 50 countries have pledged in a statement, The Hague Commitment to increase the Safety of Journalists, to independently investigate and prosecute all forms of attacks on journalists and other media personnel, both online and offline. This was the outcome of a digital Round Table of Ministers who participated at the invitation of Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok. It is the first time a ministerial meeting has taken place at the World Press Freedom Conference.

Mr Blok: ‘No journalist should have to fear intimidation, violence or persecution. Journalists are the oxygen of a free, inclusive and diverse society.’

7 million euros

In a concrete response to the Round Table of Ministers, the Netherlands is earmarking €7 million to promote press freedom and the safety of journalists worldwide. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will collaborate on this with UNESCO and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Special attention will be paid to the position of female journalists, access to information and ending impunity for crimes against journalists.

Temporary shelters

The Shelter City programme will be expanded. Sixteen Dutch cities will offer temporary shelter to foreign human rights defenders where they are given respite and can receive training, for example in security or lobbying. Over the next five years The Hague will offer two extra places a year to host journalists who have been personally threatened. The programme is run by Justice and Peace Netherlands and funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Police training

In 2021 UNESCO will provide three-day training courses for police officers and other security personnel on the protection of journalists during protest meetings and on freedom of expression. The Netherlands will fund the courses. UNESCO has already trained 3,400 security force members in over 17 countries.

Legal forum

This year the Netherlands is also introducing a forum for judges, prosecutors, lawyers, legal experts and institutions, which will become an annual feature at the WPFC. The aim is to exchange practical experiences with protecting freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. This Forum of Legal Actors is a joint initiative with UNESCO, Free Press Unlimited and the Asser Institute for International and European Law. In 2021 and 2022 the Asser Institute will provide training to judges and prosecutors, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For more information on the programme and speakers, see the conference website and the digital platform