Port Moresby, 3 May 2018 – Today is World Press Freedom Day, a day to celebrate the fundamental human rights of freedom of expression and access to information. It is also a time to reaffirm how vital a free and independent media has been, and continues to be, for democracy, and development in Papua New Guinea and around the world.
The theme for 2018’s World Press Freedom Day is “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law” which highlights the importance of an enabling legal environment for the press to operate freely. The theme also aims to explore legislative gaps with regard to freedom of expression and online information, and the risks of regulating online speech.
The relation between independent media and rule of law is mutually reinforcing. An independent judiciary plays a crucial role in ensuring legal guarantees for press freedom and the prosecution of crimes against journalists. On the other hand, the media’s watchdog role is crucial to hold governments and institutions accountable. Their work to monitor and report abuses of democratic process, including corruption, is a critical contribution to upholding democracy and promoting sustainable development. In doing so, journalists foster strengthened transparency, accountability and the rule of law. Media coverage can also advance democracy, gender equality and sustainable development.
Papua New Guinea ranks 53 among 180 countries on World Press Freedom Index in 2018. The index, published every year by Reporters without Borders, assesses the level of freedom available to journalists.
“Journalists hold people in power to account. They equip us with the knowledge to make decisions affecting our lives. They share stories that offer hope for our future. They expose truths we may otherwise never hear. Journalists make great sacrifices to bring us the truth. Too often, they lose their security, their jobs, their freedom, wellbeing and even their lives in doing so. Therefore, the safety of journalists must be guaranteed, and press freedom must be strengthened. Legislation to protect independent journalism and plurality of viewpoints must be adopted to shape opinions.” Said Mr. Gianluca Rampolla, UN Resident Coordinator in Papua New Guinea.
On World Press Freedom Day, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also calls on governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalists. In his message he said “A free press is essential for peace, justice and human rights for all. It is crucial to building transparent and democratic societies and keeping those in power accountable. It is vital for sustainable development. Journalists and media workers shine a light on local and global challenges and tell the stories that need to be told. Their service to the public is invaluable. Laws that protect independent journalism, freedom of expression and the right to information need to be adopted, implemented and enforced. Crimes against journalists must be prosecuted. On World Press Freedom Day 2018, I call on governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalists. Promoting a free press is standing up for our right to truth.”
Source: UN Resident Coordinator’s Office