Established in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, World Press Freedom Day 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”.
Press freedom is considered to be a cornerstone of human rights and a guarantee of other freedoms. Freedom of expression is essential to enable public participation in decision-making. Citizens cannot effectively exercise their right to vote or take part in public debate if they do not have free access to information and ideas and are not able to freely express their views (hrea.org).
The Reporters Without Borders‘ Press Freedom Index 2011-2012 confirms that full-fledged democracies are often global leaders in press freedom. “This year’s index finds the same group of countries at its head, countries such as Finland, Norway and Netherlands that respect basic freedoms. This serves as a reminder that media independence can only be maintained in strong democracies and that democracy needs media freedom. It is worth noting the entry of Cape Verde and Namibia into the top twenty, two African countries where no attempts to obstruct the media were reported in 2011.”
Freedom House has published a report entitled “Freedom of the Press 2012: Breakthroughs and Pushback in the Middle East”, which points out that the Middle East and North Africa saw dramatic if precarious gains in press freedom in 2011, and for the first time in eight years, global media freedom did not experience an overall decline.”
Check out what other organisations are doing on World Press Freedom Day:
The Editor of Index on Censorship Padraig Reidy writes the last 2011 has seen tumultuous shifts for media freedom. However core problems still remain in the world’s troublespots.