The members of the International Press Institute (IPI), meeting at their 72nd annual General Assembly during the IPI World Congress on May 25, 2023 in Vienna, Austria, adopted by unanimous vote a resolution calling on states that are committed to improving the safety of journalists – including Media Freedom Coalition (MFC) member states and partner states – to develop rapid visa support schemes for journalists at risk and requiring immediate, temporary safe haven.
Threats against journalists are increasing at an alarming rate. Scores of journalists around the world are facing the need to leave their home countries in order to escape threats to their safety. However, options for temporary, safe refuge are limited, and navigating these limited paths available is complex and onerous.
The IPI global network calls on all member states of the Media Freedom Coalition–a group of states that commit to improving the safety of journalists at home and abroad–and MFC partner states to develop clear, accessible emergency VISA programs that give at-risk journalists temporary safe haven, in line with recommendations put forward by the High-Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, an MFC advisory body composed of international legal experts.
An effective visa scheme should also ensure that temporarily relocated journalists are able to continue their work as journalists.
We note that several MFC member states have introduced such emergency schemes, including Canada, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Latvia, and Germany. Some of these schemes require time-consuming procedures. We applaud the swift process implemented in the Czech Republic.
We also urge MFC members and partner states to make use of existing knowledge circles of the civil society and journalists’ safety communities to expedite processes in cases where urgency is the issue. The IPI global network also strongly urges all MFC member states and partners that have yet to develop such schemes to prioritize their development, in line with the High-Level Panel recommendations.