Pretoria: Freedom of expression and press freedom are critical to the successful implementation of good governance and human rights around the world, top United Nations officials declared today.
This as they inaugurated the 2015 edition of World Press Freedom Day with a reminder that both freedoms were essential for the shaping of a new global sustainable development agenda.
In a joint message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Director-General of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation Irina Bokova and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein observed that quality journalism “enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society’s development” while also working “to expose injustice, corruption and the abuse of power”.
“For peace to be lasting and development to be sustainable, human rights must be respected. Everyone must be free to seek, receive and impart knowledge and information on all media, online and offline,” the UN officials said.
World Press Freedom Day, which was established by the UN General Assembly, is celebrated annually on 3 May.
The day is designated by UNESCO as an opportunity to celebrate worldwide 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 theme – ‘Let Journalism Thrive!’– is a three-pronged message that advocates for quality journalism, the tackling of gender imbalances in media and digital safety.
As part of the commemoration, the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), in partnership with the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ) and UNESCO, will host a seminar in Johannesburg.
Guided by the international theme for 2015, the seminar will bring together government departments and entities, media practitioners and students, academia and civil society organisations to commemorate the day with a focus on the “State of Media Freedom in South Africa”.
Established by an Act of Parliament in 2002, the MDDA gives meaning and effect to the principles of press freedom through its commitment to a free and diverse media, with access to all.
The MDDA promotes such development in the South African media throughout the country by building an environment where a diverse, vibrant and creative media flourishes and reflects the needs of all South Africans.
Specific objectives of the MDDA Act include encouraging ownership and control of and access to media by historically disadvantaged communities, as well as by the historically diminished indigenous language and cultural groups.
In addition, the MDDA seeks to raise public awareness with regard to media development and diversity and encourages research regarding these crucial issues.
SOURCE: South African official News