World Press Freedom Day: What to know
World Press Freedom Day, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, is observed on May 3 to further promote press freedom and protection of journalists, and to pay tribute to journalists who lost their lives carrying out their duties.
The World Press Freedom Day comes few days after the death of nine journalists and photographers in the suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan. The journalists had gathered to report an initial suicide bombing before another suicide bomber, who pretended to be a journalist detonated a bomb.
The theme for this year’s World Press Freedom Day is ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’. According to UNESCO, the day ‘will cover issues of media and transparency of the political process, the independence and media literacy of the judicial system, and the accountability of state institutions towards the public.’
World Press Freedom Day is a reminder to governments of the need to respect press freedom. But how much threat is leveled against free press?
According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), there have been 32 journalist deaths in 2018. Although, no death has been recorded in Nigeria, Nigeria ranks 119th, sitting just below Afghanistan in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index. The World Press Freedom Index shows the level of freedom afforded journalists and news organisations and the governmental efforts to respect the freedom.
According to Reporters without Borders (RSF), at least 32 journalists are currently detained in Egypt with 22 of them without charges. Mahmoud Hussein, an Al Jazeera journalist has spent more than 500 days imprisoned in Egypt.
Last week, 14 of Turkey’s respected newspaper, Cumhuriyet were said to have been found guilty of terrorism charges in Turkey because of the country’s stifling of the media and criminalization of their journalistic works. Over 120 journalists have been jailed since the coup attempt in July 2016, as well as at least 180 media organization closed down with specious and baseless accusations of ‘plotting to overthrow the state’ and ‘terrorism offences’
Journalists, who aren’t sitting in cells, are imprisoned by fear, keenly aware freely expressing views, written or spoken, could land them in jail.
World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom, according to UNESCO.
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