Press freedom key indicator of a country’s health: Pope | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:09 AM, May 19, 2019

Press freedom key indicator of a country’s health: Pope

Pope Francis yesterday paid tribute to journalists killed while doing their jobs, saying media freedom is a key indicator of a country’s health.

In an address to the Foreign Press Association in Italy, he urged journalists to shun fake news and continue reporting on the plight of people who no longer make headlines but are still suffering, specifically mentioning the Rohingya and Yazidi.

“I listened in pain to the statistics about your colleagues killed while carrying out their work with courage and dedication in so many countries to report on what is happening in wars and other dramatic situations in which so many of our brothers and sisters in the world live,” he said.

Francis had just heard the association’s president, Patricia Thomas of Associated Press Television, talk about journalists killed, imprisoned, wounded or threatened in their line of work.

“Freedom of the press and of expression is an important indicator of the state of a country’s health,” the pope said. “Let’s not forget that one of the first things dictatorships do is remove freedom of the press or mask it, not leaving it free.”

Francis did not mention any countries in his address to about 400 members of the foreign media and their families.

“We need journalists who are on the side of victims, on the side of those who are persecuted, on the side of who is excluded, cast aside, discriminated against,” he said.

Francis urged the media to not lose interest in tragedies even when they no longer make headlines.

“Who is talking about the Rohingya today? Who is talking about the Yazidi today? They have been forgotten and they continue to suffer,” he said.

Nearly one million Rohingya Muslims from mostly Buddhist Myanmar have fled to Bangladesh, most following a Myanmar military-led crackdown in 2017 that UN investigators have said was conducted with “genocidal intent”. Myanmar has denied almost all allegations of atrocities.

 

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