UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on all to defend the rights of journalists, reminding everyone that a free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights.
“When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price,” said the UN chief in a message marking the World Press Freedom Day that falls today.
According to Unesco, he said, almost 100 journalists were killed last year and hundreds imprisoned. He said he was deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks on journalists and the culture of impunity.
Guterres pointed out that no democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information, according to the UN.
“It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power,” he said, adding that this is especially true during election seasons - the focus of this year’s World Press Freedom Day.
The UN chief said facts, not falsehoods, should guide people as they choose their representatives.
Technology, he said, has transformed the ways in which people receive and share information and sometimes it is used to mislead public opinion or to fuel violence and hatred.
“Civic space has been shrinking worldwide at an alarming rate and with anti-media rhetoric on the rise, so too are violence and harassment against journalists, including women,” said the UN chief.
The main celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2019 will take place in Addis Ababa from May 1 to 3. It will provide a platform for multiple actors to exchange on current issues, threats and achievements concerning freedom of the press.
Some 100 national events around the world are expected to complement the main celebration, according to Unesco.