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[size=36]UN General Assembly President's Message on World Press Freedom Day (3 May 2020)[/size]
Saturday, 02 May 2020
The World Press Freedom Day, proclaimed in 1993 by the United Nations, was inspired by the efforts of African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration, calling for media pluralism and independence.
Since then, celebrating the World Press Freedom Day marks our recognition of journalists and media professionals around the globe, whose work has contributed to exposing injustice and hardship experienced by those whose voices are often silenced or threatened.
We must continue to defend a free world press.
The crucial role of journalism is even more relevant in the unprecedented wake of COVID-19, when our very lives depend on a balanced perspective of unbiased information, constructive public debates and credible accountability.
The coronavirus pandemic has given new rise to flows of misinformation, as well as politically and commercially-biased news, amplifying threats to press freedoms around the world. Yet, it is only a well-informed public that can be best equipped to tackle issues that matter most. We are still struggling to get it right.
Threats against journalists and media workers are not new phenomena. Their dignity, and the integrity of their work are still under attack in too many places around the world. Female journalists face a double burden: being attacked as journalists, and as women. We must stand with them in solidarity.
Similarly, when publications are censored, fined, and suspended – we must voice that this undermines the foundations of freedom of opinion and expression, which are enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I want to thank all journalists who put their lives and freedoms on the line to defend the idea of free speech and expression. Let me also pay tribute to all those who have lost their lives as a result of their journalistic endeavours.
There is great work to be done. We have no room for either cynicism or apathy. We should strive together, to deliver for all.
[size=36]UN Secretary-General’s message on World Press Freedom Day (3 May 2020)[/size]
Saturday, 02 May 2020
Theme: “Journalism Without Fear or Favour”.
Journalists and media workers are crucial to helping us make informed decisions. As the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic, those decisions can make the difference between life and death.
On World Press Freedom Day, we call on governments -- and others -- to guarantee that journalists can do their jobs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
As the pandemic spreads, it has also given rise to a second pandemic of misinformation, from harmful health advice to wild conspiracy theories.
The press provides the antidote: verified, scientific, fact-based news and analysis.
But since the pandemic began, many journalists are being subjected to increased restrictions and punishments simply for doing their jobs.
Temporary constraints on freedom of movement are essential to beat COVID-19. But they must not be abused as an excuse to crack down on journalists’ ability to do their work.
Today, we thank the media for providing facts and analysis; for holding leaders – in every sector – accountable; and for speaking truth to power.
We particularly recognize those who are playing a life-saving role reporting on public health.
And we call on governments to protect media workers, and to strengthen and maintain press freedom, which is essential for a future of peace, justice and human rights for all.
[size=36]UNESCO and Iraqi journalists celebrate World Press Freedom Day[/size]
Monday, 04 May 2020
Baghdad, Iraq, 4 May 2020 - UNESCO Iraq Office, with the cooperation of the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists, and with participation from the Ministry of Interior and the Iraqi Press Association, organized a virtual meeting with journalists from all governorates to celebrate World Press Freedom Day.
"Journalism without fear or favour" was the theme for this international occasion, by recalling the huge sacrifices made by journalists and media workers, 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.
"We are standing here today, facing a huge challenge, threatening to overshadow the daily lives of people across the world during this crisis. Journalists, doctors, nurses and security officers are all facing the same threat of COVID-19. We all applaud them for the sacrifices that they have to make to provide us with the needed information, fact-based news and analysis. With this statement, the President of the Federation of Journalists in Iraq, and the Federation of Arab Journalists, Mr Moayad Al-Lami, started his opening speech, stressing on the need for a full governmental response to cease the risks of threats in the media society.
“Celebrate World Press Freedom Day from Home”, that is the statement that has been agreed on from all participants at the ceremony, due to the circumstances that are currently affecting the world from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another year has passed and we are still counting numbers of media and press victims in Iraq: Mazen Latif and Tawfeeq Tamim are an example of journalists with their fates unknown, and more than six journalists were killed since last year. Six other journalists have been infected with COVID-19, some have recovered while the rest of the journalists remain in danger while doing their jobs in the field. "According to Dhea Subhee, UNESCO Iraq ”Free and independent press is necessary at all times, but it is particularly important during health crisis, such as the crisis we are currently experiencing. “While many are primarily searching for information online, the role of professional journalists is to assist in providing information and provide the necessary guidance.
Major General, Saad Maan, the Director of the Department of Media in the Ministry of Interior, said in his opening speech that "The Ministry of Interior seeks to complete the setting up of the investigation unit by training their officers towards achieving an optimal response to journalists, by securing their working fields and the safety of Iraqi women journalists. In a program to break the silence through its partnership with UNESCO Iraq Office to enhance the protection of journalists.”
Mr. Maan also added that the ministry is seeking to reveal the mystery of the abduction and murder of journalists, and it is in the process of providing a full report to the Director of UNESCO Iraq regarding these murders in the near future.
The participants discussed the challenges and problems facing them during this crisis, and sent a request to the Iraqi Government and to the Prime Minister's Office to sign a draft of the executive order on the protection mechanism for the safety of journalists in Iraq, specifying who would be responsible for the safety of journalists, and to determine the duty of each member of the Committee.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Husamaldeen El-Zubi, Public Information Officer
UNESCO, Baghdad, Iraq
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