Germany has nine strategic partner countries that disrespect the freedom of the press – the Federal Government must show more commitment towards independent media coverage

World Press Freedom Day (May 3rd)

On occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) asks the German Federal Government to show more commitment towards the freedom of the press in their strategic partner countries and countries in which German is involved in development programs and job training initiatives. "In global comparison, nine of Germany's strategic partner countries belong to the most problematic concerning the freedom of the press. Therefore, the main discourse topics should not only focus on strengthening economic relations, but also on the protection of journalists and bloggers," says a letter from the STP to Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The nine strategic partner countries China, Russia, Vietnam, Angola, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, India, Morocco and Saudi Arabia are not among the 110 of 180 countries that respect the freedom of the press and internet freedom. Vietnam and China are even to be found right at the bottom of the list, at number 174 and number 175. The press freedom list is annually published by Reporters without Borders. It shows how much influence the security agencies of several countries take on the work of the journalists.

"The Federal Government is trying to strengthen the relations with the authoritarian state of Vietnam, although bloggers or journalists are arrested for political reasons or brought to justice there almost every week," criticized STP-consultant Ulrich Delius in Göttingen on Friday. "In Vietnam, even bloggers and journalists who work for persecuted Christians and indigenous peoples are often arbitrarily detained."

In Russia, it is extremely dangerous for journalists to report on the serious human rights violations committed by security forces in the North Caucasus or to turn against Putin's reign. In China, Uyghur Bloggers face decades of imprisonment if the dare to report on public protests. In India, violence against journalists has increased to such an extent that many decide to practice self-censorship. In Angola, the media keep absolutely quiet, because the government will not tolerate any criticism of abuse of power and corruption.

But even in some of the countries Germany provides development assistance for, such as Ethiopia and South Sudan, newspapers and radio stations are arbitrarily closed and journalists intimidated or arrested. Nine journalists and bloggers were arrested in Ethiopia only last week. In Somalia, where Germany trains soldiers and is actively engaged in an international contact group, journalists are especially in danger. They have to fear for their lives, because they are threatened both by Islamists as well as by the regular security forces, who arbitrarily close down radio stations or newspapers.

Ulrich Delius, head of STP's Asia department, is available for further questions: Tel. 0551 49906 27 or asien@gfbv.de.