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Standing up for freedom of expression

The climate crisis is a human rights crisis

A recent landmark decision by the European Court of Human Rights in France ruled Switzerland’s failure to adequately address the climate crisis as a violation of human rights.

The ruling emphasizes the imperative for governments worldwide to take tangible action, shield citizens from the adverse impacts of climate change, and ensure fairness and equity, particularly for vulnerable communities disproportionately affected. It also bears significant implications on the interconnectedness of climate change and human rights. Governmental neglect can be regarded as an infringement upon fundamental rights, such as the right to health and a safe environment.

The case was brought forth by over 2,000 Swiss women and local media, demonstrating the power of grassroots activism in holding governments accountable for their actions and pushing for legal reforms. In addition, it reaffirms the importance of journalists, artists and human rights defenders in effecting meaningful change within their communities and highlights the significance of empowering those individuals and groups.

It also emphasizes the importance of protecting them from censorship, harassment, intimidation, and violence, which they often face in their efforts to restore justice.

World Press Freedom Day 2024

In 2024, freedom of expression in the context of the current global environmental crisis gains prominence as the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day. The focus is set on the pivotal position journalists and artists hold in raising awareness and catalyzing action in response to environmental challenges.

Despite this crucial role, they often confront challenging obstacles in their efforts to report on issues ranging from climate change to biodiversity loss and air pollution. Disinformation campaigns and assaults on integrity further compound these challenges, undermining the effectiveness of initiatives aimed at addressing environmental degradation.

Finally, particularly heightened risks are faced by journalists operating in regions where press freedom is under threat.

Empowering change makers

It is imperative to recognize that reliable information can safeguard the planet and advance sustainable development. Protecting journalists and artists from crimes committed against them and ensuring freedom of expression, access to information, and media plurality are essential components of this mission.

Justice & Peace sees the urgent need to address the environmental crisis while upholding the principles of press freedom and freedom of expression. Committed to the interconnected causes of press freedom and environmental defence, Justice & Peace offers vital protection and support to journalists and artists at risk, contributing to a more just and sustainable world.

Former participants of our initiatives, Sheyla, A.G., Luis, and Gaca, honour the resilience of journalists and artists worldwide and share their powerful stories with us.

A.G., defending the planet through his art in the Philippines

A.G. began his mission against illegal extractions and marine mammal trafficking in 2010. A.G. is a Filipino environmental artist, human rights defender and former resident in the Artist’s Safe Haven initiative. His story stresses the power of the visual in bringing about positive change, as well as the challenges faced in artistic advocacy.

Read A.G.'s change maker story

Sheyla, advocating for freedom of information in Venezuela

Sheyla is a journalist advocating for gender-based violence, sexual trafficking and exploitation of women, indigenous people’s and minorities’ rights. During her stay stay in Shelter City and in honour of World Press Freedom Day 2023, she delivered this story in-person, sharing her honest account of operating within a heavily censored media landscape as a journalist, mother and a woman in Venezuela.

Read Sheyla's change maker blog

Luis, building peace through the fight against impunity in Venezuela

“Crimes against journalists are injuries against society as a whole because they erase the limits and counterweights of power, silence what everyone should know and delay both social change and the resolution of emergencies.” Luis Carlos Diaz is a Venezuelan journalist, human rights and digital rights defender, and former Shelter City guest. He was declared prisoner of consciousness by Amnesty International.

Check Luis' change maker blog

Gaca, being a voice for the voiceless in Burundi

Gaca is a human rights defender who stayed in Shelter City away from their home in Burundi, one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Due to the serious nature of the security situation in the region, Gaca has chosen to protect their identity using a pseudonym, and certain details of the story have been obscured.

Find Gaca's change maker story

The mission to protect and empower journalists and artists must be viewed as an ongoing effort rather than a single event. Justice & Peace stands in solidarity with these change makers and calls for protection and respect of their right to report freely and safely.⁠