JAM | May 3, 2023

It’s World Press Freedom Day! Shaping a future of rights

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Today (April 3) marks the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, a day that places special focus on the importance of press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

Journalists, similar to doctors, lawyers and teachers have a role to play in society, by imparting knowledge to the general public to allow them to make informed decisions while serving as a watchdog who holds government officials accountable in their mandate to serve the people.

However, the role of a journalist is not ‘smooth sailing’ as many are attacked on the job, resulting in many losing their lives.

According to a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, 67 journalists were killed in 2022, which is the highest number recorded since 2018.

In 1993, the UN General Assembly declared May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of freedom to seek, impart and receive information for the public good.

Shaping a future of rights

This year, the day is being championed under the theme “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights” a call for governments to promote freedom of expression to foster other human rights in society such as access to education, health and to be a part of decisions on government policies.

Journalism is considered the backbone of society that holds those in power accountable while helping people to navigate the world around them.

According to UNESCO in a joint statement with the United Nations General Assembly and United Nations General Council to commemorate the day, Journalists and media workers make indispensable contributions to the protection of human rights for all peoples.

“On this day we call upon all Member States to promote, protect and fulfil the right of freedom of opinion and expression. All human rights are universal and indivisible. It is time to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference,” the statement said. 

The group is therefore urging member states, the UN system, regional organisations, civil society, and other stakeholders to safeguard the right to freedom of opinion and expression as a basis for tackling the interlocking crises that the world faces.

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