Saturday, 2 May 2009

Global press freedom declines

There were setbacks highlighted in Israel, Italy, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Kenya should be in there somewhere.

Following is Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message for World Press Freedom Day, observed 3 May:

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees everyone the right "to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers". On World Press Freedom Day, we reiterate the central importance of this right -- and the need to protect the journalists and media outlets on the frontlines of exercising it.

Attacks on journalists remain shockingly high in number. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 11 journalists have been killed in the line of duty so far this year. Among them was Lasantha Wickrematunge, a prominent Sri Lankan journalist assassinated in January on his way to work. I call on the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that those responsible for his murder are found and prosecuted. UNESCO has honoured Mr. Wickrematunge posthumously with its World Press Freedom Prize for 2009, to be presented in a Press Freedom Day ceremony in Doha.

The CPJ also reports that, as of 1 December 2008, 125 journalists were in prison. Some have been incarcerated for years -- and some for more than a decade. Three countries -- China, Cuba and Eritrea -- account for half of those cases. I urge all Governments that have detained journalists to ensure that their rights are fully respected, including the right to appeal and defend themselves against charges.

I am also concerned that some Governments are suppressing Internet access and the work of Internet-based journalists and others using the "new media". Not surprisingly, blogging has flourished in countries where restrictions on media are toughest. Now, according to the CPJ, some 45 per cent of all media workers jailed worldwide are bloggers. I urge all Governments to respect the rights of these citizen journalists, who may lack the legal resources or political connections that might assist them in gaining their freedom.

Quotes from Free, independent media essential agent of human rights, development, peace, says Secretary-General, in World Day message.

The Kenyan blogosphere definitely keeps me up to date with what is going on at home. December 2007, it was a lifeline, even if it involved me having to log onto Mashada. I am grateful for the all the differing content that is out there, that enables me to get a sense of what is happening on the ground.

It was great to be able to text the folks,relatives, and friends during those times, and tell them to avoid certain trouble spots.Sad that they had to rely on information from outside, to get the whole picture.

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