By: Lisette Alberti

World Press Freedom day was proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1993. The proclamation of this international day followed from a Recommendation adopted at the 26the session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. Not only does it celebrate the fundamental principle of the freedom of press, it also sheds light on current violations of press freedom. Moreover, it homages those journalists who lost their lives while doing their job.

The importance of free press should not be underestimated. The message from Director-General Audrey Azoulay for the 2018 World Press Freedom Day included the following:

‘The ideal of a State under the rule of laws calls for well-informed citizens, transparent political decisions, public debates on topics of common interest and a plurality of viewpoints that shapes opinions and undermines official truths and dogmatism. This shaping and informative power mainly falls to the press and the media in general, under all their guises and through various mediums.’

The right to freedom of press closely ties in with one of the most fundamental human rights, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: freedom of expression. In the Declaration article 19 states the following:

‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’

The international NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) creates the World Press Freedom Index every year. Over the last five years, they have seen a worldwide decrease in the level of press freedom. This is caused by the increasing authoritarian tendencies of governments, stricter control of state-owned media and decreasing safety levels in conflict-prone areas. Moreover, they address the recent development of ‘oligarchs’ buying media outlets and exercising pressure over the information it is sharing. In the World Press Freedom Index of 2018 Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland and Switzerland are leading the list as the countries with the most press freedom. The five lowest ranking countries are, in order, Vietnam, China, Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea.

GICJ urges all states to protect the freedom of expression and the freedom of press. The freedom of information is vital in any well-functioning political system and should therefore be protected at all costs.
Furthermore, we applaud all the journalists who risk their lives daily to do their job, and we morn those who lost their lives in this process.

International Days of Remembrance articles by GICJ:

Remembrance for All Victims of Chemical Warfare
Reflection on the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda
Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade

Right to Truth of Human Rights Violations

World Water Day

Elimination of Racial Discrimination

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