Danger journalists face recognized on Press Freedom Day

Journalist at work

Journalist at work

The courage and determination of journalists to exercise in their right to free speech has been recognised by the United Nations.

Marking World Press Freedom Day the UN said that journalists continued to face intimidation, torture, and even murder.

Radmilla Suleymanova reports.

2011 has been a particularly deadly year for journalists working in North Africa and the Middle East.

By the end of April four journalists had been killed in Libya, two in Bahrain and one each in Yemen, Egypt, and Tunisia. And another three had been killed in Iraq.

Navi Pillay is the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She says journalists have a dangerous job.

“Journalists across North Africa and the Middle East have also been subjected to torture, other forms of violence, executions and sexual assault. They have been intimidated, obstructed, harassed, deported, arbitrary detained and disappeared.”

Navi Pillay says it’s a key moment for press freedom and human rights.

“The media old and new, local and international have been playing a vital role and also paying a heavy toll in the political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa over the first four months of this year. In my view rarely has the interface between the role of the media and fundamental human rights been as clearly demonstrated on some many fronts and in such a short space of time as it has been in country after country during the so-called Arab spring.”

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization that monitors press freedom around the world, there have been at least 450 attacks on journalists in this region since the beginning of the year.

The role of new media has played a significant role in getting information to a larger audience.

“By allowing individuals to share information and ideas of all kinds instantaneously and inexpensively across national boundaries, the Internet and other forms of new media have rapidly developed into extraordinarily powerful communication tools to inform us of the facts and expose injustice.”

Journalists have also been killed covering stories in Mexico, the Philippines, Pakistan and Vietnam.

As they expose injustices, which include corruption, crime and human rights violations, they will continue to be targets across the world.

Radmilla Suleymanova, United Nations

Duration: 2’16″





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