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Saturday, 02 May 2020 20:21

UN General Assembly President's Message on World Press Freedom Day (3 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.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande