For a generation, World Press Freedom Day has been celebrated around the world on 3 May as an opportunity to honour journalists who have died in the line of work, and also defend and work for press freedom. On this occasion, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the World Association for Christian Communication (Europe) (WACC Europe) join in these celebrations and express their commitment to a free press in Europe and beyond.
Independent media representing a diversity of perspectives is essential for the flourishing of democracy. Transparency and flow of information provided by the press contributes to good governance, just electoral processes, and empowerment of people represented by democratic governments.
Journalism also encourages essential debate across an increasing number of platforms. Social media and citizen journalism now join traditional outlets in investigating and analysing all facets of life. Many issues undertaken by journalists serve the upholding of human rights in both local and global contexts.
The current situation in Europe is diverse and precarious. Some countries consistently demonstrate a high degree of press freedom, while others struggle with government interference in the media, the conglomeration of media outlets, and the manipulation of regulatory bodies. Some countries experience significant mergers, newsroom closures, and loss of media independence.
On this day CEC and WACC Europe call for renewed commitment and action toward:
“The churches of Europe have a vital role to play in creating and sustaining democratic societies,” remarks CEC General Secretary Guy Liagre, “this includes promoting and protecting a free, independent, and pluralistic press.”
Stephen Brown, president of WACC Europe, said, “Media pluralism and diversity are essential elements of press freedom and of democratic and representative societies, and we look to the European institutions to uphold and preserve such pluralism and diversity.
"Freedom of expression and the right to information and communication are human rights and need to be recognized as such."
CEC and WACC Europe will continue to hold in prayer journalists in prison and facing challenges to their personal safety wherever they are for their commitment to the free exercise of their profession.
For more information or an interview, please contact:
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Bruxelles
Tel. +32 2 234 68 42
Fax +32 2 231 14 13
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 national council of churches and organisations in partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Brussels and Strasbourg.
WACC Europe is part of the World Association for Christian Communication, a non-governmental organisation that builds on communication rights in order to promote social justice, and aims to be a catalyst for change for the common good, sharing information, knowledge, and experience in the field of communication.