The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D., today attended the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society.
The purpose of the Conference was for Ministers across Europe to agree on actions to address the rapid technological changes in the media and information environment and their resultant impacts on democracy and freedom of expression. The Conference also agreed actions around reinforcing the protections afforded to journalists and other media actors engaged in work that is instrumental for the healthy operation of democracy.
Speaking at the Conference, Minister Martin called for the immediate release of the individuals detained by Belarusian authorities on 23rd May.
“Ireland is deeply concerned regarding the situation of media freedoms in Belarus. Independent journalists and media must be allowed to conduct their work free from harassment, intimidation and fear. I reiterate Ireland’s call for the Belarusian authorities to end the repression and restore fundamental rights and freedoms.
We welcome the decision of the International Civil Aviation Organisation to investigate this incident, but Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega now languish in detention in Belarus. Ireland is deeply concerned for their welfare given the numerous reports of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners in detention received by UN Special Rapporteurs. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those unjustly detained, including political prisoners and media workers.”
Minister Martin also emphasised Ireland’s support for measures around the protection of freedom of expression in the face of evolving digital technologies.
“Ireland welcomes the adoption of this resolution that supports the right to form, hold and express an opinion without undue interference, along with its corollaries of freedom of information and media freedom, which is crucial for the fulfilment and protection of all other human rights. Ireland recognises the importance of freedom of expression for a democratic society and supports a strengthening of safeguards against adverse impacts arising from the use of digital technology.”
On 10 and 11 June 2021, Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society issues met to agree on action required to address the radical changes in the media and information environment brought on by rapid digitalisation, with dramatic effects for the exercise of freedom of expression and substantial impact on other human rights and freedoms.
The meeting also addressed the dangerous backsliding in the area of safety of journalists and discussed ways to reinforce the resilience of human rights protection frameworks.
The Ministerial Conference led to the adoption of a final declaration and four resolutions addressing these important issues. These instruments will secure the political engagement of the Council of Europe and its member States for a number of priority actions and will contribute to the agenda of the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Media and Information Society’s (CDMSI), for the years to come.