On this World Press Freedom Day, we would like to inform the international community that freedom of the press and expression are fundamental human rights. On this day we celebrate the basic principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom in the world, defend the media against attacks on their independence, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference. In times of crisis, the importance of accurate and reliable journalism cannot be overstated. Yet, since 1993 more than 1387 journalists have been killed ‘in the line of duty’ or merely for the fact of being a journalist. Hence, securing a free and independent media and ensuring journalism without fear or favour are therefore more than ever essential for democracy to survive.
At a time when we are mired in worry and uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic, free information is essential to helping us face, understand, think about, and overcome this crisis. We must consider the vital importance of information in this situation. Informing the public means, giving everyone the means of combatting the illness by adopting appropriate practices.
We, at the World Assembly World deem that this Day acts as a reminder of the importance of a free press in a functioning and safe society, and serves to commemorate the journalists who have lost their lives in support of free press. We encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, as well as assessing the status of press freedom worldwide. Our efforts include the promotion of human rights including media expression to young people serving as a reminder of the need to respect the importance of press freedom. In reflecting the issue of press freedom and professional ethics amongst media, we believe that young people should be exposed to different opinions, freedom of speech, and freedom to publish their desires.
Let us make it a date on this day, to fight the “infodemic” of rumours and disinformation which is exacerbating the pandemic and putting lives at risk, and to develop initiatives in favour of press freedom.