Dutch House of Representatives votes in favor of emergency visa for journalists
On 22 June, the House of Representatives passed a vote on facilitating the issuance of emergency visas for journalists. That is good news for press freedom. The Netherlands could become the first European Member State to issue emergency visas for journalists in case of emergency.
The vote requests the Minister of Foreign Affairs to inform the House about this before the recess. A swift implementation could save the lives of journalists and their loved ones.
Direct result of Masterclass on press freedom
Free Press Unlimited invited Professor Can Yeginsu, the author of the Report on Providing Safe Refuge to Journalists at Risk, to a Masterclass on Press Freedom in The Hague, the Netherlands. He called on Dutch MPs to issue 50 to 100 emergency visas a year to journalists who would otherwise be in life threatening danger. With this, the Netherlands would respond to the most important call within the report of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom.
This is necessary, because journalists increasingly end up in life-threatening situations. Think of death threats, or the risk of prolonged illegal detention. They must then leave the country as quickly as possible, and have no time to lose. The recent kidnapping of Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend has made this painfully clear.
The Netherlands as a safe haven
By issuing emergency visas especially for journalists in need and their loved ones, the Netherlands can act as a safe haven for journalists, and by doing so save lives. At the same time, this offers only a last resort to save a life, but is not a structural solution to defending press freedom and the survival of independent journalism. At the same time, the Netherlands must continue to support and protect journalists worldwide.
The vote symbolises an important step forward for press freedom. The vote was initiated during the State of Europe debate on June 17, 2021. The vote passed with a large majority, 15 parties voted in favor, 3 parties voted against.
Photo: Dutch House of Representatives by -JvL-.