Monday, April 30, 2007

Press Freedom essential to Democracy

Issued by JAWS 3rd May 2007

As the world celebrates the work of media professionals this International Press Freedom Day, the Journalists Association of [Western] Samoa would like to reiterate the importance of Press Freedom in Democracy.Press Freedom is essential to Democracy, it ensures a fair and just society through an open and Free Press.

Press Freedom ensures that the concepts of transparency, accountability and good governance are observed through a healthy flow of information to the public.In the words of American Journalist Arthur Libbman: "A free press is not a privilege but an organic necessity in a great society."Unlike other countries, Samoa enjoys Press Freedom to a certain degree and Journalists, Editors, Camera operators and Photographers are able to move and work from day to day without danger.

This World Press Freedom Day, JAWS would like to pay tribute to Journalists around the world who face personal danger everyday in their efforts to exercise Freedom of the Press.We acknowledge the support of the United Nations in ensuring Press Freedom around the world, including Samoa.In the pursuit of Press Freedom we as Journalists have a personal responsibility to report fair and objectively without bias or judgement.As in the words of Pakistani Journalist, Razia Bhatti who said: "Journalists must seek and speak the truth for we are the voice of the voiceless millions."

JAWS would also like to acknowledges the support of the Government of Samoa in ensuring Press Freedom.The UN theme for WPFD: "Safety of Journalists and Impunity," has been re-adapted by JAWS to suit the local context.The theme for this years JAWS WPFD activity is: "Confidentiality and Fair Treatment of Journalists."

To commemorate this event, JAWS will be hosting an Editors Forum, on Wednesday, 9th of May 2007 at the SamoaTel Conference Rooms and Maluafou.Hon. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Lupesoliai Malielegaoi will be conducting the keynote address.The JAWS WPFD activity will be based on the theme: "Confidentiality and Fair Treatment of Journalists."JAWS would like to acknowledge the efforts of all media workers in Samoa to ensure Press Freedom despite threats and constraints.We end, in the words of Irish Political Author, Junius who said: "Let it be impressed upon your minds, let it be instilled into your children, that the liberty of the press is the core of all the civil, political, and religious rights." [End:JAWS WPFD Release] Apia, Samoa

Saturday, April 21, 2007

World Press Freedom Day 2007

Theme: Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity

Every year, May 3rd is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
3 May was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991 It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom - a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered. It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide. It serves as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.


WPFD: Message from UNESCO Director-General

Message from Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day - 3 May 2007

World Press Freedom Day is an occasion to remind the world of the importance of protecting the fundamental human right of freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With violence against media professionals constituting today one of the greatest threats to freedom of expression, I have decided to dedicate World Press Freedom Day 2007 to the theme of journalist safety.

Over the past decade, we have witnessed a dramatic escalation of violence against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel. In many countries around the world, media professionals are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered. According to professional organizations, 2006 was the bloodiest year on record with over 150 media killings. Hundreds more media workers were arrested, threatened or attacked because of their work.

Being a journalist has never been more dangerous. We know that conflict zones – and post-conflict zones – are particularly hazardous environments for journalists. The worst example is Iraq, where sixty-nine media professionals were killed last year. Over 170 media professionals, the vast majority being local journalists, have been killed in the country since the conflict began in April 2003. Never in recorded history has there been such a large-scale killing of journalists. Those who risk their lives to provide independent and reliable information deserve our admiration, respect and support. They understand better than anyone that media contributes significantly to processes of accountability, reconstruction and reconciliation. Indeed, the growth in violence against journalist is telling, if tragic, testimony to the importance of the media to modern democracies. The safety of journalists is an issue that affects us all. Every aggression against a journalist is an attack on our most fundamental freedoms. Press freedom and freedom of expression cannot be enjoyed without basic security.

On World Press Freedom Day, therefore, we must pledge to strengthen our efforts to secure journalist safety. In particular, I call on all governments and public authorities to end the pervasive culture of impunity that surrounds violence against journalists. Governments must fulfil their responsibility to ensure that crimes against media professionals are investigated and prosecuted. Today is also an occasion to recognize the progress that has been made in protecting press freedom. UNESCO welcomes the recent UN resolution condemning attacks against journalists in conflict situations. This resolution represents a victory for the campaign against impunity, and for those committed to protecting the independence and rights of media workers. We must exploit this momentum to build a culture of safety within media. As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, let us reflect on ways to propagate values that respect the media’s vital role in promoting sustainable peace, democracy and development.

Let us commemorate media professionals who have lost their lives, and honour those who bring us information despite danger and risk. Above all, let us appreciate the intimate relationship between securing the safety of journalists and realizing our own freedoms. Our ability to act as informed citizens of the world depends on a media that can work freely and safely.

Koïchiro Matsuura