The Swiss government should get “more clearly and actively” involved in press freedom issues, four leading Swiss journalism organisations have said on World Press Freedom Day.
In an open letterexternal link made public on Friday, the Swiss section of Reporters Without Borders, as well as journalism organisations impressum, Syndicat and syndicom, said that the federal council was not being the role model that it should be.
They particularly criticize the letter of intentexternal link on cooperation between Chinese search engine Baidu and the Swiss embassy signed by Swiss President Ueli Maurer during a recent trip to Chinaexternal link.
The organisations say Baidu dominates the Chinese market and is complicit with governmental censoring and propaganda. China was placed 177 out of 180 in a recent press freedom survey.
The letter notes that Switzerland did not sign a joint statement by 36 countries on Saudi Arabia during the last session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in March. This statement raises concerns about the detention of a number of activists and the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In their letter, the four organisations call on the government to “commit during all contact, missions and trips abroad clearly and actively to the freedom of information and the security and integrity of journalists”, and especially in China and in Saudi Arabia.