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World Press Freedom Day 2017: 'Government harassment of the media is a global crisis'

03 May 2017


The UN representative responsible for promoting freedom of expression has described government harassment of the media as a global crisis and urged political leaders worldwide to urgently act to secure press freedom and release detained journalists.

Speaking on World Press Freedom Day 2017, David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said that the work of journalism as a public watchdog over government was more difficult than ever and that political leaders needed to do more to promote the role that a free media plays in democratic societies.

World Press Freedom Day is held annually on 3 May and celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

David Kaye said:  “On World Press Freedom Day, the world recognizes the role that free media plays in democratic society. Yet on every day of the year, including World Press Freedom Day, those who practise journalism face censorship, criminalization, harassment and, all too often, physical attacks and murder. Governments must act to secure press freedom, release detained journalists and end the public demonization of critical media.”

“On this World Press Freedom Day, while recognizing the hard work that remains for journalists and publishers to strengthen their essential role in providing everyone with access to information, it is far more important to direct attention to those governments and political leaders who work incessantly to undermine not only the practice of journalism but the right everyone enjoys under international human rights law to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers and through any media.

“All too many leaders see journalism as the enemy, reporters as rogue actors, tweeps as terrorists, and bloggers as blasphemers.

Government harassment of the media is a global crisis. In this crisis, I call on all governments to take steps to protect and promote independent journalism.”

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