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Pile of Newspapers with Chains (shutterstock)
Pile of Newspapers with Chains (shutterstock)

3rd May, The World Press Freedom Day

(Dp-news)

WORLD- The United Nations General Assembly designated 3 May as World Press Freedom Day. This year’s theme, “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media”, seeks to rally global action to protect the safety of all journalists worldwide and to break the vicious circle of impunity for crimes committed against them.



United Nations officials issued Thursday a call to action to ensure the safety of journalists in every country, echoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who declared; “When it is safe to speak, the whole world benefits”.




Every year World Press Freedom Day celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

“Every day, freedom of expression faces new threats. Because they help ensure transparency and accountability in public affairs, journalists are frequent targets of violence,” said Secretary-General Ban and Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in a joint message for World Press Freedom Day, observed each year on 3 May.



“Too many media workers also suffer from intimidation, threats and violence. Too many experience arbitrary detention and torture, often without legal recourse. We must show resolve in the face of such insecurity and injustice.”



According to UNESCO, more than 600 journalists have been killed in the past decade, many while reporting in non-conflict situations. Impunity is also widespread as nine out of 10 cases of killings of journalists go unpunished.



Ban and Bokova emphasized that press freedom “does not happen automatically,” but requires the creation of a safe environment for dialogue, where they can execute their jobs without fear of reprisal.

They also noted that action must encompass both traditional media as well as digital mediums, where news is increasingly produced and consumed.



“Bloggers, citizen reporters and social media producers, as well as their sources, face increasing threats to their safety,” they said. “In addition to physical dangers, they are being targeted with psychological and emotional violence through cyber-attacks, data breaches, intimidation, undue surveillance and invasions of privacy.”

“Such assaults not only limit the right to freedom of expression and threaten the safety of online journalists and their sources – they undermine the ability of all people to benefit from a free and open Internet.”



Ban and Bokova reiterated the UN’s strong commitment to coordinate action, raise awareness and support countries in upholding international principles and developing legislation for freedom of expression and information according to the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.



“As we mark World Press Freedom Day, let us pledge to do our utmost to enable all journalists in all media to do their jobs,” Ban said in New York at an event organized by UNESCO and the Department of Public Information on journalists’ safety. “When it is safe to speak, the whole world benefits.”



3rd May was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day at the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in late 1991.

A free, independent and pluralistic media environment, online and offline, must be one in which journalists, media workers, and social media producers can work safely and independently without the fear of being threatened or even killed. It needs to be an environment where attacks, intimidations, harassments, abductions, arbitrary imprisonments, and threats are the exceptions and not the norm.



Journalists (including citizen journalists), editors, publishers and online intermediaries alike should not be subjected to political or financial coercion and manipulation. They should especially be protected from threats to the security of themselves and their families.



Securing the safety of journalists and media workers is an urgent matter. More than 600 journalists and media workers had been killed in the last ten years. In other words, every week a journalist loses his or her life while bringing news and information to the public.



Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media that are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.



The day also serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom, with a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.



It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favor of press freedom and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide.



Governments are reminded of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and media professionals have the opportunity to reflect about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.

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