Hundreds of Liberian journalists today, May 2, 2019 join their colleagues around the world to celebrate the World Press Freedom Day; with this year’s activities in Liberia taken place in Rivercess County, one of Liberia’s newest counties.
The World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.
It is an opportunity to: celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence; and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
This year’s (2019) Theme is : Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation
The 26th celebration of World Press Freedom Day is jointly organized by UNESCO, the African Union Commission and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The main event will take place in Addis Ababa, on 1 – 3 May at the African Union Headquarters. This year’s theme “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation” discusses current challenges faced by media in elections, along with the media’s potential in supporting peace and reconciliation processes.
UN Secretary-General’s Message
A free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights. No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.
This is especially true during election seasons — the focus of this year’s World Press Freedom Day. Facts, not falsehoods, should guide people as they choose their representatives. Yet while technology has transformed the ways in which we receive and share information, 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 harssasment against journalists, including women.
I am deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity. According to UNESCO, almost 100 journalists were killed in 2018. Hundreds are imprisoned. When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.
On World Press Freedom Day, I call on all to defend the rights of journalists, whose efforts help us to build a better world for all.