What is World Press Freedom Day?

By Kathy Bolano, Communications Intern

One of the founding principals of the United States of America is the protection of free speech. Unfortunately, that ideal has not been accepted globally. In efforts to promote the importance of freedom of press, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared May 3rd World Press Freedom Day in 1993.

Each year, World Press Freedom Day boasts a different theme. For 2015, it is “Let Journalism Thrive!”  focused on “better reporting, gender equality, and media safety in the digital age.”

In conjunction with these efforts, UNESCO awards the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in honor of the Colombian journalist Guillermo Cano, who was assassinated for his work in front of his office at the El Espectador newspaper in Bogota, Colombia.

This year’s Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize will be awarded to Mazen Darwish, a Syrian journalist who has been imprisoned since February 2012 for advocating for freedom of press against the Syrian government. He is founding member of the Voice newspaper and syriaview.net, and is also president of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (CMFE). His wife and fellow journalist, Yara Bader, will be accepting the award on his behalf.

Journalism promotes the essential exchange of ideas, develops a fair, just world and generates dialogue. The Niagara Foundation is a strong advocate for freedom of speech and wholeheartedly agrees with the joint statement made by the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein when they stated,  “Quality journalism enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society’s development. It also works to expose injustice, corruption, and the abuse of power. […] Freedom of expression and press freedom are not luxury attributes that can wait until sustainable development has been achieved – it is an enabler for the enjoyment of all human rights and, therefore, vital to good governance and the rule of law.”  

[Image via Flickr]

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