Switzerland reaffirms its support for freedom of expression and the safety of journalists

10 April 2018

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© Abdel Moneim Juanid

Switzerland has made a contribution to the newly established Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists.

“Freedom of expression and safety of journalists is an issue that is unfortunately growing in importance in all regions in the world, and Switzerland supports UNESCO's work in this field,” says Thomas Schneider, Ambassador and Director of International Affairs at the Swiss Federal Office of Communications.

At the initiative of the UNESCO Section of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland has made a contribution of 100,000 Swiss francs to the Special Account on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists. This was announced at UNESCO’s 39th General Conference.

“We think that we all need to join forces and work together” confirms Nicolas Mathieu, Head of UNESCO Section and Secretary General of the Swiss Commission for UNESCO.

UNESCO extends its deep appreciation to Switzerland for strengthening its support to the Communication and Information Sector and particularly freedom of expression and safety of journalists. This contribution follows Switzerland’s support to UNESCO in Tunisia to support the implementation of the right to information law. Launched in September 2017 on the occasion of the celebration of the International Day on Universal Access to Information in Tunis, during which nine newly-elected members of the Tunisian Right to Information Commission (INAI) made their first public appearance, the project is currently under implementation. Most recently, it has supported the participation of the Tunisian INAI’s President Mr Imed Hazghui at a session co-organized by UNESCO at the International ICE-Gov conference held in Galway, Ireland, on 4-6 April 2018.

This new additional contribution of one hundred thousand Swiss Francs to the Special Account on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists will support UNESCO’s activities reinforcing the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity (UN Plan). Adopted in 2012 and spearheaded by UNESCO, this flagship programme is a comprehensive and action-oriented UN-wide approach to organise co-operation between all relevant stakeholders.  

A Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on Strengthening the Implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in Geneva in 2017 identified technical assistance to governments to establish national and regional mechanisms as the next step in implementation.

“This funding support the implementation of the UN Plan and will be used for the specific objective of supporting national mechanisms to keep journalists safe,” said Sylvie Coudray, Chief of Section for Freedom of Expression at UNESO.

These national mechanisms, like that of the recently announced national mechanism in Tunisia, handle issues related to the safety of journalists by preventing violence against journalists and tackling impunity for crimes committed against them. Switzerland’s continued contribution illustrates that the issue of safety of journalists and ending impunity for crimes committed against them, is gaining momentum.

The new Multi-Donor Programme for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, which was established approximately one year ago through an Executive Board decision, welcomes contributions that offer flexibility to design and implement programmes where they are most needed. Donors receive our yearly Pooled Financial Report, outlining how funds are having a positive impact.

To contribute to our efforts and donate to the Multi-Donor Programme, click here.