SECRETARY - GENERAL
MESSAGE FOR WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY
3 May 2007
Each year on World Press Freedom Day, we reaffirm
our commitment to the right of freedom of opinion and expression,
enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In our time, more and more people are gaining the
means to reach, and reach out to, a wider audience. But too often,
they face attempts to restrict, deny or block the flow of information
and ideas. In the face of such threats, it is the job of the United
Nations to be an unflinching defender of press freedom, and of the
women and men whose talent and dedication bring it to life.
Most alarmingly, in seeking to shed light on the
plight of others, journalists themselves become targets. Over the
past year, more than 150 media professionals have lost their lives
in the line of duty. Other members of the press have been injured,
detained, harassed or held hostage. This happens not just in the
midst of armed conflict, but also in pursuit of stories on corruption,
poverty and abuses of power.
Most recently, I have been following with dismay
the abduction of BBC journalist Alan Johnston. Mr. Johnston’s coverage
of issues relating to the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict has rightly earned worldwide respect. No cause is served,
and any cause is undermined, by his continued captivity. I appeal
again for Alan Johnston’s immediate and safe release.
Attacks on freedom of press are attacks against international
law, against humanity, against freedom itself – against everything
the United Nations stands for. A free, secure and independent press
is among the very foundations of democracy and peace. Governments,
international organizations the media and civil society all have
a role to play in upholding those foundations. On World Press Freedom
Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to this mission.
MESSAGE FOR WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY 3 May 2007