30 May Securing freedom of expression is focus of World Press Freedom Day
The theme of World Press Freedom Day 2013 is “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media”. How can WACC members and partners help bring about such a world?
At the beginning of 2013 WACC joined with its partner SIGNIS to give its Human Rights Award 2012 to the documentary film “Forbidden Voices” directed by Barbara Miller. It explores the risky business of blogging in three countries where freedom of expression is severely restricted.
In Cuba, China and Iran, the blogs of Yoani Sánchez, Zeng Jinyan and Farnaz Seifi are challenging the state monopoly on information. And what these women write, along with countless other courageous journalists elsewhere in the world, puts their lives at risk.
“Forbidden Voices” portrays their journeys and traces their use of social media to denounce and combat the violations of human rights and freedom of speech in their countries.
According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, freedom of expression is a fundamental right that “also provides the conditions for protecting and promoting all other human rights. But its exercise does not happen automatically; it requires a safe environment for dialogue, where all can speak freely and openly, without fear of reprisal.”
On May 3, World Press Freedom Day 2013, WACC joins with its members and partners to profoundly thank and encourage all those struggling for communication rights – which include freedom of information, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press.
Reporters Without Borders (RWB) believes that freedom of expression and of information will always be the world’s most important freedom. “If journalists were not free to report the facts, denounce abuses and alert the public, how would we resist the problem of children-soldiers, defend women’s rights, or preserve our environment?”
On World Press Freedom Day, RWB has reiterated its support for the new Libyan state, its entire population and its authorities during the current transition to democracy. In the light of recent events that have shaken Tripoli, it has stressed the key role that news providers play in any democratic society and calls for total respect for media freedom in today’s new Libya.
IFEX, the global network defending and promoting freedom of expression, almost shares its birthday with World Press Freedom Day. IFEX was born in 1992, one year after UNESCO adopted May 3 as the commemorative date. Since IFEX was founded, its members have been at the forefront of campaigns to fight for press freedom under those repressive governments.
Also, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) – with whom WACC recently partnered to publish a Resource Kit for Gender-Ethical Journalism – has written to representatives of the four countries in the world with the highest numbers of imprisoned journalists to demand their release.
Signed by IFJ’s President, the letters have been sent to the embassies of China, Iran, Turkey and Eritrea, to express the IFJ’s concern about the lack of press freedom in these countries, where journalists are routinely detained in violation of their fundamental freedoms and human rights.
“Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media” includes citizen journalists and bloggers such as the three women portrayed in “Forbidden Voices.” WACC is committed to promoting the communication rights of people everywhere – especially those in situations of marginalization and exclusion.
WACC believes that strengthening and advancing communication rights changes lives for the better.