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Stress laid on protection of journalists on Press Freedom Day

Stress laid on protection of journalists on Press Freedom Day

UNITED NATIONS: As the World Press Freedom Day was observed on Sunday, top UN officials observed in a statement that ‘freedom of expression and press freedom’ were critical to the successful implementation of good governance and human rights around the world.

“Journalism must be able to thrive in an enabling environment in which they can work independently and without undue interference and in conditions of safety,” the statement said. “This is our message today, to let journalism thrive!”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Director-General of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), Irina Bokova, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, observed that quality journalism “enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society’s development” while also working “to expose injustice, corruption, and the abuse of power”.

“For peace to be lasting and development to be sustainable, human rights must be respected,” the joint statement said. “Everyone must be free to seek, receive and impart knowledge and information on all media, online and offline.”

“We need every voice to speak out and be heard — especially those of women,” the statement said. “Twenty years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, women remain under-represented throughout the media, at decision-making level but also in the coverage of issues.

“We cannot let this stand. Men and women must participate equally in making and sharing the news.”

At the same time the statement pointed out the troubling scenario of violence and insecurity in which thousands of journalists operated and said that at least one journalist was killed each week in both conflict and non-conflict zones.

In a separate message, the UN chief said that around the globe journalists were attacked every day as they try to carry out their work. In the last year alone, 61 journalists were killed. Many more languish in jails without charges or any sign of due process, the victims of governments and others that prohibit free inquiry and use the power of the state to intimidate the press.

He said that this year’s theme emphasised the importance of ensuring a free and pluralistic media against the backdrop of a fast-paced and ever-changing digital world.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2015

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