Today, marking one year since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners reiterate our condemnation of Russia’s war of aggression. We continue to stand in solidarity with the journalists and media workers who cover the events at great risk to their safety and remember those who have died in the line of duty.
The war’s deadly toll has cast a dark shadow over press freedom in Europe. Killing, kidnapping, torture and other attacks on journalists and media workers has no place in Ukraine, and those responsible must face justice for their crimes. The safety of journalists and media workers on the ground is paramount and must be respected.
Since the beginning of the conflict, at least nine Ukrainian and international journalists and media workers are confirmed to have been killed in the line of duty or due to their journalistic work. In some cases, there is evidence that Russian troops targeted journalists and their crews despite clear PRESS insignia. We recall that under international humanitarian and human rights law, the authorities must allow journalists to perform their work without undue interference and refrain from taking any restrictive measures. Under international law, attacks that intentionally target journalists constitute war crimes. In total, 155 alerts involving 241 attacked persons or entities related to media have been recorded for Ukraine on Mapping Media Freedom since 24 February 2022.
With the start of the invasion, the MFRR partners joined international efforts to offer support to journalists and media workers in Ukraine. Practical support was extended to cover the immediate needs of journalists in Ukraine to support the flow of information. In addition, the partners initiated new Journalists-in-Residence programmes in Germany and Kosovo, with the support of local authorities in both countries.
Despite the war’s devastation, Ukraine’s media sector remains afloat and the country’s journalistic sector has rightly won acclaim for the courage and professionalism shown in rising to the challenge of covering the war. Notwithstanding an influx of foreign funding, however, increased support is still needed for journalists on the frontline, for media outlets struggling financially, and for media workers who are forced to work in exile as a consequence of the aggression. We reiterate our support for these independent voices as they remain committed to providing invaluable independent journalism and keeping the world informed of what is happening in Ukraine.
On 1 March 2023, marking one year since Ukrainian camera operator Yevhenii Sakun was killed, MFRR will host “One year of war: the true cost of journalism”. This webinar will examine the impact the war has had on press freedom, remember those who lost their lives, and discuss what more needs to be done to support free and independent media in Ukraine in its hour of need.