By Eric Tataw – Wednesday May 1, 2019.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, an intergovernmental organization tasked with maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international cooperation and harmonizing nations’ actions has issued a statement ahead of World Press Freedom Day.
António Guterres issued the statement Tuesday April 30, 2019 ahead of World Press Freedom Day to be celebrated, Friday May 3, 2019. The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 of every year to be World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty.
In his opening statements on this year’s message, the UN Scribe said “A free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights”, he went further that “No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.”
His opening statements have been considered by many as a big lesson to Paul Biya, Cameroon’s 86-year-old President who has been in power since 1982. Paul Biya is one of the Presidents whose Regime has imprisoned and is still holding in detention many Journalists for doing their job.
The UN Secretary General however cautioned Journalists against reporting falsehood. “This is especially true during election seasons — the focus of this year’s World Press Freedom Day. Facts, not falsehoods, should guide people as they choose their representatives”, said António Guterres.
Going forward, he added that technology has transformed the ways in which we receive and share information, sometimes it is used to mislead public opinion or to fuel violence and hatred, furthering that civic space has been shrinking worldwide at an alarming rate.
António Guterres again said attacks against Journalist have increased, citing a UNESCO report stating that over a hundred journalist were killed in 2018 alone.
“And with anti-media rhetoric on the rise, so too are violence and harassment against journalists, including women. I am deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity. According to UNESCO, almost 100 journalists were killed in 2018. Hundreds are imprisoned.”
He also said “When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price while enjoining all “to defend the rights of journalists, whose efforts help us to build a better world for all.”