So crucial these days: let’s celebrate the fundamental right to freedom of expression

World Press Freedom Day on 3 May is the global celebration of the fundamental right to freedom of expression. The struggle for press freedom is more important than ever.

“Journalism is one of the professions that is most exposed to threats, and this is especially true for female journalists. This constitutes a threat not only to women and quality journalism but also to freedom of expression, equality and democracy,” says Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström. “We need to work continuously on different levels to ensure that these issues are never forgotten or ignored,” she adds.

Last week, the Swedish Government presented 135 new country reports on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. A gloomy picture emerges from the reports of how the space for critical voices is shrinking, including for the media and those who stand up for a better environment, less corruption and greater gender equality.

Threats and violence towards, and even murders of, journalists is a growing problem. Women journalists are particularly at risk. These abuses pose a serious threat to freedom of speech and the democratic debate. The reports also show how the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index is often a good indicator of the extent to which other human rights are respected. Moreover, the reports show that journalists and demonstrators who have drawn attention to toxic emissions from factories have been harassed and murdered when they have criticised the problems of financial interests taking priority over people’s health and environmental considerations.

The Government is working to strengthen journalists’ security by pursuing the issue of accountability for the harassment of people exercising their freedom of expression. Impunity for these crimes must never be accepted. Our support for a number of civil society organisations working in the area of freedom of expression and media issues is an important part of this work.