Free press ‘cornerstone’ of democratic societies, says UN | world press freedom day
In a message on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, celebrated every year on May 3, Secretary-General António Guterres stressed the importance of reliable, verified and accessible information.
“During the pandemic and in other crises, including the climate emergency, journalists and media professionals are helping us navigate a rapidly changing and often overwhelming information landscape, while correcting inaccuracies and lies. dangerous,” he said.
“Free and independent journalism is our best ally in the fight against misinformation and disinformation.
Mr. Guterres also noted the personal risks that journalists and media workers face, including restrictions, censorship, abuse, harassment, detention and even death, “just for doing their job”, and that the situation continues to worsen.
The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has hit many media outlets hard, threatening their very survival, he added.
“As budgets get tighter, access to reliable information also gets tighter. Rumors, lies and extreme or conflicting opinions fill the void,” the Secretary-General said, urging all governments to “do everything in their power to support a free, independent and diverse media.”
Contribute to the well-being of humanity
Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also stressed the importance of a free, uncensored and independent press as a “cornerstone of democratic societies”, conveying vital information, improving public participation and enhancing accountability and respect for human rights.
“Around the world, people have increasingly taken to the streets to demand their economic and social rights, as well as an end to discrimination and systemic racism, impunity and corruption,” he said. she declared.
However, journalists fulfilling their fundamental role of reporting on these social protests have become targets, with many falling victim to unnecessary and disproportionate use of force, arbitrary arrests and criminal prosecution, Bachelet added. .
In addition to deterring other journalists from reporting critically on relevant issues, such attacks weaken public debate and hamper society’s ability to respond effectively to challenges, including COVID-19, she said. declared.
world press freedom day
Celebrated annually on May 3, World Press Freedom Day celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom. It is also an opportunity to assess press freedom around the world, to defend the media against attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
This date marks the adoption of the historic Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press at a conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the Namibian capital in 1991.
This year, the World Day focuses on the theme of “information as a public good”, affirming the importance of information as a public good and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and receiving content to strengthen journalism, as well as to improve transparency and empowerment.
Help platforms become more transparent
The theme is linked to UNESCO’s work to ensure the long-term health of independent and pluralistic journalism and the safety of media professionals everywhere, said Audrey Azoulay, director general of the UN agency responsible for defend freedom of the press.
“As part of these efforts, we are working to create more transparency on online platforms in areas such as content moderation, while respecting human rights and international freedom of expression rules,” she said.
She also highlighted the agency’s work to equip people around the world with the media and information skills they need to navigate this new information landscape, so they can avoid being duped or manipulated into line.
“As we mark World Press Freedom Day, I call on everyone to renew their commitment to the fundamental right to freedom of expression, to stand up for media workers and to join us in ensuring that information remains a public good,” added Ms. Azoulay.