UN calls for protection of freedom of the press as essential to democracy and justice News
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UN calls for protection of freedom of the press as essential to democracy and justice

UN Secretary General António Guterres Tuesday called for the protection of the freedom of the press by ceasing threats, detentions and attacks of journalists while performing their duties at the Commemoration of World Press Freedom Day. This call to action marks a step toward the promotion of freedom of expression which is essential in achieving peace, sustainability, poverty eradication and other human rights.

Commenting on the issue of threats to journalists across the world, the Regional Director for the Media Institute of South Africa, Tabani Moyo, said, “Journalists hold up a mirror to society. Targeting them simply for doing their work sends a wrong message that States are not prepared to uphold their human rights obligations and to be held accountable.”

The attacks have been marked by government actions such as the enactments of controversial laws against journalists. For example, Maldives enacted a law in 2022 that allowed courts to force journalists and media outlets to reveal the sources of their information. This has threatened the freedom of the press in the country as information sources are no longer willing to reveal information to journalists and media outlets.

In East and South Africa, journalists are being intimidated, arrested and attacked to limit reporting on corruption and human rights violations. According to a report published by a human rights watchdog in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year, one journalist was killed, 37 were arrested and 18 were physically assaulted, while 17 media organizations were shut down or suspended in the country.

These demonstrated attempts to curtail journalists’ freedom of expression raise concern. Reporters Without Borders found an overwhelming majority of the 180 countries it analyzed had some level of “problematic” press freedom conditions.