Press freedom depicts freedom of expression.
Every year on the 3rd of May, the World Press Freedom Day is celebrated to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
In fact, May 3 acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. By celebrating World Press Freedom Day, journalists and democracy advocates contribute to defending the freedom of speech, access to information, and the independence of the media, all of which suffer constant attacks across the world.
Journalists are essential to bringing the facts, revealing the truth to the public, and maintaining awareness and transparency. Because they bother the powerful and enemies of democracy so much, journalists are frequent targets of attacks, and many are murdered. After a series of attacks on journalists during the African Civil Wars at the end of the 20th century, they decided to take action. Besides, today’s press encounters challenges of various degrees and the apprentices that enter the profession of journalism must have more courage. The emergence of new political influences, socio-economic background of the world and greed for power are the major trends that kill the freedom of the press at every time.
In 1991, a group of African journalists appealed at a UNESCO conference held in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek. They created the “Windhoek Declaration,” a document that intended to lay the foundation for a free, independent, and pluralist press. In 1993, the 26th session of the UNESCO General Conference responded to the call of the signatories of the Windhoek Declaration and founded World Press Freedom Day.
The central principle developed by UNESCO for the day is freedom of the press and of expression, to allow communication-based on mutual understanding, which is the only way to build sustainable peace in contemporary societies. The observance serves as a reminder that even today, dozens of countries around the world censor, fine, suspend, and close publications that displease the powerful locals. Many persecute, attack, and even murder members of the press.
This year’s theme for the Day will be “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights” signifying the enabling element of freedom of expression to enjoy and protect all other human rights. To observe this day let us encourage those who want to learn about becoming the voice of others and find them resources for education.