Celebrating World Press Freedom Day

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - Manila was privileged to be the host during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day in May, 2002. At that time, the joint message of then UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan, former UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson focused on the theme "Terrorism and Media Freedom." The year's celebration was dedicated to the courageous journalists who put their safety at risk by living up to the ideals of their profession.

Ten years later today, the threat of terrorism to the freedom and independence of the media continues with 127 journalists and media workers killed in 2010-2011. The indirect threats of terrorism which were expressed in 2002 - "that it seeks to intimidate, to instill fear and suspicion, and to silence any voices with which it disagrees - a climate inimical to the exercise of rights and freedoms; and the danger that it may provoke governmental responses that lead to laws, regulations, and forms of surveillance that undermine the rights and freedoms" remain real up to this time.

Also today, the country continues to be described as among the three most dangerous places for journalists in the world. UNESCO has gathered statistics together with organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), the International News Safety Institute (INSI), the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), and the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), all attesting to the alarming number of journalists killed while performing their duties. In nine out of ten cases, the perpetrators were never prosecuted - a case of impunity of the highest degree.

In its Plan of Action prepared in 2012, the UN asserts that the safety of journalists and the struggle against impunity for their killers are essential to preserve the fundamental right to freedom of expression which is guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. …