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Germany’s Foreign Minister Baerbock and Minister of State for Culture Roth launch protection program for journalists with the Hannah Arendt Initiative

The Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media are jointly launching a new program to support and protect journalists, media professionals and defenders of freedom of expression in crisis and conflict zones abroad as well as in exile in Germany. The Hannah Arendt Initiative also serves to implement a mandate from the coalition agreement.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock: "Free journalism is the best medicine against human rights violations and abuse of power. Especially these days, we see once again how indispensable the work of journalists is who, for example, report on the protests of intrepid women and girls in Iran and Russia's horrific war crimes in Ukraine. For their work, they are too often persecuted, arrested, beaten and murdered. For these courageous people to continue their work, they need safe havens, work opportunities, and support. That's why we are now creating the Hannah Arendt Initiative, an emergency aid program for media workers and journalists with tangible protection and support measures."

State Minister for Culture Claudia Roth: "Journalists are increasingly becoming targets of dictators, anti-democrats and extremists, as they shake the Potemkin propaganda villages in Moscow, Kabul, Tehran, worldwide with their free and independent reporting. They are loud, confident voices in the fight for freedom and self-determination, for democracy and peace. Especially in these times, the Hannah Arendt Initiative is an important signal for freedom of expression and freedom of the press, for the protection of journalists. With this initiative, we are providing targeted support for journalists who have fled, so that they can continue their so important work even from exile. Civil society initiatives are key players in this initiative, as they play an important role in establishing balanced mechanisms that allow state support for the media without breaking with the principle of state neutrality."

Foto: J. Konrad Schmidt

Both abroad and at home, Hannah Arendt Initiative projects are already underway, in a pilot phase. As a first step, this involves supporting journalists at risk from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, namely through emergency scholarships, training measures, regional scholarship programs and exile journalism centers in third countries, as well as corresponding measures in exile in Germany. In addition, there is a special emergency aid program to avert immediate danger to life and limb of individual media professionals in the countries of origin in a targeted and rapid manner. Partners in the initiative include DW Akademie, the European Fund for Journalism in Exile (JX Fund), MiCT - Media in Cooperation and Transition and the European Center for Press and Media Freedom. As a contribution to the protection program, DW Akademie will coordinate the network of partners, which will be open to further partners and will allow for a continuous development of the assistance offered.

As early as 2022, the German Foreign Office has earmarked 3.5 million euros for the Hannah Arendt Initiative. The funds will benefit media professionals who continue to promote independent reporting in their countries of origin through their work - initially 360 people abroad. The German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media is already helping to support a total of more than 500 media professionals since April 2022 through funding from the European Fund for Journalism in Exile (JX Fund) of around 4.2 million euros in 2022. These pilot projects are also part of the future structure of the protection program, which is thereby committed to the constitutional requirement of state neutrality. Funding is provided solely on the basis of opinion-neutral criteria and by independent juries whose opinions are not influenced by the state.

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