NEW YORK: Perturbed by the violence against journalists in recent years, United Nation Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that there must be no impunity for those who target journalists for violence, intimidation or distorted uses of legal procedures to disrupt or impede their work.
In an early message for World Press Freedom Day, Ban said on Thursday that the UN reaffirms commitment to the fundamental freedom to receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers, enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
But he lamented how every day of the year sees this right under assault, to the detriment of all.
Ban termed the singling out of journalists, the violence, the threats for speaking or writing uncomfortable truths as completely unacceptable in a world that is ever more reliant on global news outlets and the journalists who serve them.
The UN secretary-general noted with dismay that blue uniforms worn by journalists in conflict areas, much like their UN peacekeeping counterparts, has done little to protect them.
“Last year 70 journalists were killed, many caught in the cross-fire of armed hostilities. Fourteen more have suffered the same fate this year,” the statement read.
The dismal reading of figures continued as Ban counted off 211 journalists held in prison in 2013. “Some 456 journalist have been forced into exile since 2008. And since 1992, well over 1,000 journalists have been killed -- nearly one per week.”
“Behind each statistic stands a man or a woman simply going about their lawful business.
There must be no impunity for those who target journalists for violence, intimidation or distorted uses of legal procedures to disrupt or impede their work.”
Free media indispensable for development
The UN secretary-general said free media, traditional and new, are indispensable for development, democracy and good governance.
“They can promote transparency about the new goals that Member States will adopt – progress as well as shortfalls. Social media and mobile technologies offer new tools for accelerating citizen participation and economic and social progress.”
The media’s watchdog function is essential for holding Governments, businesses and others to account, he said.
“On this World Press Freedom Day, I call on all governments, societies and individuals to actively defend this fundamental right as critical factors in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and advancing the post-2015 development agenda.”
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