World Press Freedom Day: ‘Nurture and protect an independent and free media’



This year  the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) is to be observed with the theme “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms – This Is Your Right!” focusing on three different aspects of press freedom, namely, freedom of information as a fundamental freedom and as a human right; protecting press freedom from censorship and surveillance overreach; and ensuring safety for journalism online and offline.

May 3 is the date adopted by United Nations in 1993; commemorates the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, which calls for free, independent, pluralistic media worldwide, characterizing free press as essential to democracy and as a fundamental human right.

UNESCO is also holding an international conference in Helsinki, Finland.

UN’s SG Ban Ki Moon said “A free, independent and safe media environment is essential. Yet, all too often, journalists are threatened, harassed, obstructed or even killed in the pursuit of information. Many languish in detention, some in appalling conditions, for shedding light on governance failures, corporate malfeasance or societal problems,”.

At the Helsinki conference,supported by several rights and media groups, many journalists, researchers and official representatives from several countries are attending the two day event in Finlandia Hall, Helsinki.

Few media representatives from Ethiopia are seen  already attending the events here in Helsinki.

This writer will be presenting an academic research poster on Ethiopian digital media based on the cases of persecuted Ethiopian digital journalists such as Eskinder Nega, Zone 9 Bloggers and netizens attached to De Birhan Blog such as Zelalem Workagegnehu.

This year Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist from Azerbaijan has been awarded UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Ismayilova served for two years as the Baku bureau chief for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Azerbaijani service, Radio Azadliq.