Secretary-General's Message on Press Freedom Day 2015
Around the globe, journalists are attacked every day as they try to carry out their work. In the last year alone, 61 journalists were killed. Many more languish in jails without charges or any sign of due process, the 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.
This year’s theme, Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, & Media Safety in the Digital Age, emphasizes the importance of ensuring a free and pluralistic media against the backdrop of a fast-paced and ever-changing digital world.
Digital technology has been exploited to spread hate speech or incite violence, but it is also a force for good, bringing people together in a global conversation about how to build a better world. In particular, 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 digital journalists and bloggers are also facing retribution and curbs on their freedom to report.
Thriving journalism – whether in digital or more traditional form – must be anchored in quality reporting and information dissemination to all segments of society. Women play a critical, yet far too neglected, role in in today’s media landscape.
On this Day, I call on all governments, societies and individuals to uphold the principles put forward by Member States on the need for the free exchange of information and ideas, both within and among nations.
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.