For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
World Press Freedom Day was launched twenty years ago –the vision of a group of journalists gathered in Windhoek– Namibia. The Windhoek Declaration was a call to arms to protect the fundamental principles of the freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration Human Rights.
In a message to commemorate World Press Freedom Day which falls on May 3, the United Nations called all governments to join hands with the UN to guarantee and to promote freedom of expression via audio, print, visual and online media.
In a joint message, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova point out that during the last decade, more than 500 journalists lost their lives in the pursuit of their profession.
“Sixty killings were reported worldwide in 2010 alone. Every week brings more reports of journalists and bloggers suffering from intimidation and violence.
“Violations of fundamental human rights cannot go unanswered. State authorities must do everything to counter impunity and protect the safety of journalists,” the message reads. The heads of the UN, the UNHCHR and the UNESCO said the media revolution was triggering new debates about freedom of expression, about the nature of regulation, and the balance between expression and responsibility.
The message states along with new technologies in the media, new threats were also rising. They comprise a combination of older forms of restriction which pose formidable challenges to freedom of expression. New measures to block, filter and censor information are emerging daily the message said.
“The United Nations is dedicated to ensuring the Internet becomes a truly global public resource, to which all have access and where all voices are heard. This underlines the importance of quality content and calls for action to defend the integrity and safety of online reporters. The statement emphasizes that all principles of freedom of expression must be brought to the on-line world as well.