The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, paid tribute to the courage of media workers and emphasized their essential role in the development of democracy.
“I admire your fearless efforts to tell the truth. We would live in a very different world without a strong independent media,” said Mijatović, speaking from Tunis, where she is attending an international media freedom conference. “Risking your safety and even lives in the line of duty, you continue to courageously fulfill your mission.”
“At this moment when we are celebrating World Press Freedom Day, there are many journalists sitting behind bars and many still waiting for justice,” she emphasized.
“I will continue to urge governments to solve all cases of violence against journalists and to stop impunity for the perpetrators, in order to make our region a better and safer area for reporting. I will continue to oppose restrictive laws and practices that silence independent and critical voices of media, off- and online.”
“The digital revolution and modern Internet technologies have changed your methods, but not the essence of what you do. They have made news gathering and sharing faster and easier, but they have not eliminated the need for professional investigative reporting.”
The OSCE media freedom representative, along with the other three special rapporteurs on free media from the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, is attending a UNESCO conference dedicated to World Press Freedom Day.
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.
It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom - a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.
It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide.
It serves as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
The recent uprisings in some Arab States have highlighted the power of the media, the human quest for freedom of expression and the confluence of press freedom and freedom of expression through various traditional and new media.
This has given rise to an unprecedented level of media freedom. New media have enabled civil society, young people and communities to bring about massive social and political transformations by self-organizing, and engaging the global youth in the fight to be able to freely express themselves and the aspirations of their wider communities.
Yet, media freedom is fragile, and it is also not yet within the reach of everyone. Furthermore, as more reporting is transmitted online, more and more online journalists including bloggers are being harnessed, attacked and even killed for their work.
The Brussels based United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe - UNRIC provides information on UN activities to the countries of the region. It also provides liaison with institutions of the European Union in the field of information. Its outreach activities extend to all segments of society and joint campaigns, projects and events are organized with partners including the EU, governments, the media, NGOs, schools and local authorities.
United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC Brussels)
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