With journalism under increasing attack worldwide, top United Nations officials on Thursday joined a growing chorus of calls for the better protection of media workers, a UN report said.
Marking World Press Freedom Day (May 3) via video message, UN Secretary-General António Guterres described “how journalists and media workers shine a light on local and global challenges and tell the stories that need to be told,” and said: “Their service to the public is invaluable.”
“Laws that protect independent journalism, freedom of expression and the right to information need to be adopted, implemented and enforced. Crimes against journalists must be prosecuted,” he stressed, calling on governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalists in the vital work they do. “Promoting a free press is standing up for our right to truth,” he added.
Only 10 per cent of the 930 cases of killings of journalists between 2006-2016 have been officially resolved, according to the most recent World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Report, published by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and its partners.
During last year, 79 journalists were assassinated worldwide while going about their work. Earlier this week, nine journalists were among those killed in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan.
Following an initial terrorist blast in the capital Kabul, that killed many civilians, a second explosion targeted media workers arriving on the scene to cover the attack. In a separate incident on the same day, another Afghan journalist was killed.
This brings the total number of journalists murdered so far this year to 32 – with nearly eight months remaining.
UNESCO’s chief, Audrey Azoulay, pledged – in her message for the Day – that her agency was “committed to defending the safety of journalists and fighting against impunity for crimes committed against them.”
Around the world, World Press Freedom Day, established by the UN General Assembly in 1993, is being observed to champion free and accurate reporting.
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