UN Zambia Statement on Press Freedom Day

  • Every day, journalists and media workers around the world are frequent targets of violence. They face intimidation, threats and violence from governments, corporations, criminals or other forces that wish to silence or censor.

Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media

 

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a cornerstone of good governance, sustainable development, and lasting peace and security.

 

Yet, every day around the world, journalists and media workers are frequent targets of violence. They face intimidation, threats and violence from governments, corporations, criminals or other forces that wish to silence or censor. From traditional media platforms such as radio, print and television, to newer and more and more popular social media, blogs and citizen-led reporting, journalists are increasingly at risk.

 

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental right and provides conditions for protecting and promoting all human rights. To exercise this right, we must all help create and protect a safe environment for dialogue, where all can speak freely and openly even if ideas and ideologies differ, without fear of reprisal,” said UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Kanni Wignaraja.

 

The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media”, highlights the need for action to upholding the right of journalists to carry out their vital work. “Today, twentieth anniversary of the World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to renew our commitments. Let us pledge to do our utmost to enable all journalists in all media to do their jobs. When it is safe to speak, the whole world benefits.” said the UN Secretary General in a message.

 

Globally, the UN system has established a Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. The plan aims to raise awareness and to support practical steps to create a free and safe working environment for journalists.

 

Over the past decade, more than 600 journalists have been killed – at least 120 in the past year alone. Hundreds more have been detained. The dangers are not only physical: from cyber-attacks to bullying, the powerful are deploying numerous tools to try to stop the media from shedding light on misrule and misdeeds. These are individual tragedies; collectively, they are an assault on the right of all people to the truth. The UN is especially concerned that so many of the perpetrators escape any form of  punishment.

 

The UN in Zambia congratulates the Government of Republic of Zambia (GRZ) for assuming the role of the Chair of the UN Committee on Information for the next two years. Zambia will also represent all African countries in the committee. We look forward to the active promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression and ensuring all people feel “Safe to Speak” across the country and in the region.

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