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Ban urges Govts, individuals to uphold freedom of press

Ban made the call in New York, in a message to mark the World Press Freedom Day, observed every year on May 3.

Ban Ki-Moon

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has urged Governments, societies and individuals to uphold the principles put forward by Member States on the need for the free exchange of information and ideas among nations.

Ban made the call in New York, in a message to mark the World Press Freedom Day, observed every year on May 3.

This year’s theme is: “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality and Media Safety in the Digital Age’’.

It emphasises the importance of ensuring a free and pluralistic media against the backdrop of a fast-pace and ever-changing digital world.

Around the globe, he said, journalists are attacked every day as they try to carry out their work.

Ban said that last year alone 61 journalists were killed, while many more languish in jails without charges or any sign of due process.

He added that most of the journalists in incarceration were victims of governments and others that prohibit free inquiry and use the power of the state to intimidate the press.

”As we mark World Press Freedom Day this year, let us honour the memory of those who lost their lives, and intensify our efforts to uphold the fundamental human right to freedom of expression and press freedom.

”We must commit to ensure that the safety and human rights of journalists are protected, independent of the political, socio-economic or cultural pressures that may threaten, impede or deter their freedom to keep the world informed.

”Journalism and the press can help advance our efforts to achieve the objectives of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals.

”If we are to move forward with a new development agenda, we need to understand that information must not only be universal, but also free to challenge the status quo, and to provide a window of hope to those whose voices are silenced by the censorship of corruption, violence, intimidation and retaliation,” he said.

The UN Chief said a thriving journalism, whether in digital or more traditional form, must be anchored in quality reporting and information dissemination to all segments of society.

He also observed that in spite of the critical role played by women, yet they remain far too neglected in the media landscape.

Ban noted that although digital technology has been exploited to spread hate speech or incite violence, it still remained a force for good, bringing people together in a global conversation about how to build a better world.

In particular, he said, digital technology can have a positive impact as leaders strive this year to formulate an ambitious agenda to advance sustainable development for years to come.

However, Ban said that digital journalists and bloggers are also facing retribution and curbs on their freedom to report.