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UN chief: Societies pay price when media workers are targeted

  • Published at 01:38 pm May 2nd, 2019
Antonio Guterres
File photo: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Reuters

He added that civic space, worldwide, is shrinking at an alarming rate

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on all to defend the rights of journalists; reminding everyone that a free press is essential for: peace, justice, sustainable development, and human rights.

"When media workers are targeted, societies—as a whole—pay a price," said the UN chief in a message marking World Press Freedom Day, that falls on May 3.

According to Unesco, he said, almost 100 journalists were killed last year and hundreds were imprisoned. He said he is deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity, reports UNB.

Guterres pointed out that no democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information, according to the UN.

"It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable, and speaking truth to power," he said, adding that this is especially true during election seasons — the focus of this year's World Press Freedom Day.

The UN chief said facts, not falsehoods, should guide people as they choose their representatives.

Technology, he said, has transformed the ways in which people receive and share information; plus sometimes it is used to mislead public opinion or 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 harassment against journalists — including women," said the UN chief.

The main celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2019 will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from May 1 to 3. 

It will provide a platform for multiple actors to exchange ideas on current issues, threats, and achievements concerning freedom of the press.

Some 100 national events around the world are expected to complement the main celebration, according to Unesco.

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