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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

2013 Themes for World Press Freedom Day - 3 May

2013 Themes for World Press Freedom Day - 3 May

" Ensuring the Safety of Journalists and Media Workers."
" Combating Impunity of Crimes against Press Freedom. "
" Online Safety."

 For 20 years, May 3 has been a day when the world celebrates freedom of expression and stands together for its protection. This is the spirit of the 1991 Declaration of Windhoek, whose anniversary the United Nations General Assembly chose for World Press Freedom Day. UNESCO was instrumental in framing the Windhoek Declaration and works today to promote freedom of expression across the world.

 Joint Message from  Mr, Ban Ki-Moon and Ms Irina Bokova - WPFD2013

PRESSING FOR FREEDOM - 20 Years of World Press Freedom Day

" Ensuring the Safety of Journalists and Media Workers."

Fundamental to the UN Plan is the insight that the experiences in one country or region can be useful for others trying to improve the safety of journalists. Compilation and sharing of up-to-date information and best practices and conducting international missions and investigations into particular cases can be highly beneficial. However, much work is still needed to achieve an optimum level of information exchange and joint learning, and in adapting good practices to different regional and national contexts.

Points for reflection:

  • What are the biggest opportunities and threats to the UN Plan of Action?
  • How do threats to press freedom differ from region to region?
  • How can various strategies to improve safety be replicated in different regions?
  • What are the preventive mechanisms to prevent journalists from being harmed in the first place?
  • How do we ensure that international standards for safety of journalists and combating impunity are respected and adopted in the country context?
  • How can public awareness be developed to ensure that press freedom is widely cherished and that public opinion at all levels will not tolerate attacks on journalists?

 Our hands write history when they are not handcuffed.

A free, independent and pluralistic media environment, online and offline, must be one in which journalists, media workers, and social media producers can work safely and independently without the fear of being threatened or even killed. It needs to be an environment where attacks, intimidations, harassments, abductions, arbitrary imprisonments, and threats are the exceptions and not the norm. Journalists (as well as citizen journalists), editors, publishers and online intermediaries alike should not be subjected to political or financial coercion and manipulation. They should especially be protected from threats to the security of themselves and their families.

 " Combating Impunity of Crimes against Press Freedom. "

Various countries and organizations have been working on reducing impunity independently or in close cooperation.  The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issues an annual index on impunity tracking some of the highest rates of impunity around the world. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Inter American Press Association (IAPA) have regular programmes and reports on impunity.  IFEX has led the process in the promotion of the International Day to End Impunity on 23 November as a global awareness raising campaign. What are some of the more effective measures taken globally to reduce impunity? And can they be replicated elsewhere? What are the lessons to be learnt?

Points for reflection:

  • What is the extent of impunity in your country and how best to address it?
  • What is the state of impunity globally?
  • How to improve research into the extent, visibility and consequences of impunity?
  • What are some of the good practices of to fight impunity that could be replicated elsewhere?
  • Is the legal justice chain adequately designed and equipped to handle crimes against freedom of expression?
  • What are the challenges of investigating crimes against press freedom when these are committed by non-state actors including extremist organizations or criminal enterprises?

 " Online Safety."

The issue of safety online also concern more than just the individual blogger or professional journalist. With the rise of institutions playing a mediating role on the Internet between authors of content and audiences, they need to understand international standards and their implications. Any limitation to freedom of expression must be imposed as a truly exceptional measure, must be provided by law, and in the pursue of legitimate purpose and be proven as necessary and the least restrictive means possible .  Accordingly, awareness and sharing of best practice is needed to ensure that intermediaries can provide principled responses if they are to protect freedom of expression in the face of mounting pressures to disclose user identities, conduct surveillance operations or take down content when there is an objection.
All this resonates with the evolution of the Internet as a platform that to date has attracted less restriction than other media platforms. The free and open character of the Internet, which is a precondition for online safety, is underpinned by a multi-stakeholder model of governance as confirmed by the resolutions of the World Summit of the Information Society.

Points for reflection:

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