UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL - 46TH SESSION

National statement by the Kingdom of the Netherlands

ITEM 4: General Debate

Madam President,

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is deeply concerned about violations of media freedom worldwide. 

Free media is a bedrock of democracy and human rights. Access to reliable and independent information is paramount, as exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet journalists increasingly face physical and verbal violence, threats and intimidation, lawsuits and imprisonment with the aim of silencing them. 

The Netherlands is seriously concerned about the situation in Belarus. Authorities have restricted access to information and some 400 journalists and media workers in Belarus face various forms of repression. 

We are deeply worried about ongoing efforts of the Chinese authorities in curtailing freedom of expression and censoring offline and online information, especially in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. China has jailed more journalists than any other country and we call for their immediate release.

We are deeply alarmed by reports of attacks and harassment of journalists following the military coup in Myanmar. The restrictions on freedom of expression and internet access are highly alarming. 

With concern, we see the situation in Cuba further deteriorating, despite a gradual improvement in internet access. Independent journalists, artists and bloggers are frequently arrested, detained, questioned, smeared on national media, and restricted in their movements by the Cuban Government.    

Recently, in Uganda, a group of journalists, reporting on opposition leader Bobi Wine delivering a petition to the OHCHR, was beaten and heavily injured by soldiers. Around the elections in Uganda numerous press freedom violations were recorded, including detentions, assaults and internet shutdowns.

Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Impunity for killings of journalists remains the norm. Journalists reporting on human rights abuses and the upcoming elections have faced harassment, intimidation and death threats. The role of free media is crucial to conduct free and fair elections.

A number of journalists have been arrested or deported from Ethiopia. Internet shutdowns and limited media access to Tigray have made it impossible for the press to report and investigate the serious allegations regarding human rights violations by various sides in the ongoing conflict. 

Authorities must release all arbitrarily detained journalists and ensure that journalists do not face violence, threats, intimidation, or imprisonment simply for reporting facts.

Because without media freedom, Madam President, there can be no true progress in human rights.

Thank you.