World Press Freedom Day: History, Significance & Facts That We Must Take Note Of

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2018 Theme: Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice & The Rule of Law

World Press Freedom Day is commemorated every year on 3 May to remind countries and people all around the world, that freedom of the press and freedom of speech and expression are fundamental human rights. The day acts as a reminder of the importance of a free press in a functioning and safe society and serves to commemorate the journalists who have lost their lives in support of free press. The day is also observed to salute those journalists who have lost their lives in line of duty. It was first organized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 and today world marks 25th World Press Day.

2018 Theme: Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice & The Rule of Law

In Observance of the World Press Freedom Day 2018, here are the most important facts that we must take note of. 

World Press Freedom Day
World Press Freedom Day

1. The World Press Freedom Day was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1993 as an outgrowth of the ‘Windhoek Declaration’ adopted in 1991 in Namibia for promoting independent and pluralistic African Press.

2. The World Press Freedom Day is celebrated on 3 May, the date on which the Windhoek Declaration was adopted which emphasized the need of a free press for developing and maintaining democracy and for economic development.

3. Every year the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is awarded to different journalist or individuals, especially those who have risked their lives in promotion of the freedom of expression. The 2014 winner of the prize was the Turkish instigative journalist Ahmet Sik, who was reportedly arrested in 2011 on charges of being linked to an alleged terrorist organization.

World Press Freedom Day
World Press Freedom Day

4. Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights (considered as an important stepping stone to the freedom of press) states that everyone “has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to see, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

5. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the five ‘deadliest’ countries for journalists are Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan and Somalia. India is in 6th place.

6. In 2011-2012, the countries where press was the most free were Finland, Norway and Germany, followed by Estonia, Netherlands, Austria, Iceland, and Luxembourg.

World Press Freedom Day
World Press Freedom Day

7. According to the Press Emblem Campaign(PEC), 35 journalists have been killed in 2014 so far. And in 2013 70 journalists were killed, while the year 2012 saw one of the highest numbers of such deaths with 141 journalists reported dead.

8. According to Reporters Without Borders, more than a third of the world’s population live in countries where there is no press freedom or where there is no system of democracy or where there are serious deficiencies in the democratic process.

9. The country with the least degree of press freedom was Eritrea, followed by North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria, Iran and China.

India is ranked as 136th in the world to be the worst country for journalism

World Press Freedom Day
World Press Freedom Day

India slipped three places in the 2017 world press freedom rankings to 136th among 180 countries. In the index released on Wednesday, India was ranked just three places above Pakistan and was one notch below violence-torn Palestine. India’s neighbours Bhutan and Nepal were placed at 84th and 100th rank.

World Press Freedom Day, Events and Things to Do

World Press Freedom Day
World Press Freedom Day

* People must gather their friends and family members and organize events on spreading awareness about the freedom of press. People can also use #WorldPressFreedomDay on various social media platforms to raise awareness for the press freedom.

* The internet has given birth to a citizen journalist movement that harnesses the power of millions who previously had no voice.

* Government of India must collaborate with UNESCO and organize major events, conferences and seminars on the problems of press freedom in India along with its solutions. General public and journalists must be invited to attend those events.

* Attend an event. There are dozens of events celebrating WPFD, these conferences bring together journalists and media workers to discuss current issues. UNESCO offers more info.

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