Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation, addressed a ministerial roundtable today on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
"With all the uncertainties that the COVID-19 pandemic has created; the role of media has never been as important," said Minister Thórdarson in his speech. "It is truly shocking to see how some governments have used the pandemic to crack down on media, civil society, and open debate." The minister also referred to the meeting's statement, highlighting the importance of commitment for the release of all arbitrarily detained journalists and media workers imprisoned for their work.
The online roundtable was held in the margins of the World Press Freedom Conference, co-hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and UNESCO. The Dutch Foreign Minister, Stef Blok, presented the meeting's statement titled "The Hague Commitment to increase the Safety of Journalists" and UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, addressed the meeting. UNESCO is the agency within the UN system with a mandate to promote freedom of expression and press freedom, which are among Iceland's priorities at UNESCO.
Foreign Minister Thórdarson has placed great emphasis on media freedom and media independence, which is in line with Iceland's emphasis on human rights. Iceland is a member of the Media Freedom Coalition, which was formed last year following an international conference on media freedom, with the aim of strengthening measures to combat increased attacks on media workers around the world and support those countries wishing to take steps towards greater media freedom. Iceland also recently became a member of UNESCO's International Program for the Development of Communication (IPDC).