ABUJA- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has called on all states, societies and individuals to actively defend press freedom as fundamental rights.
This is contained in a statement issued by Mrs. Sylvia Iwuchukwu, UNESCO Assistant Programme Officer on Education, made available to newsmen in Abuja.
The statement said that the World Press Freedom Day was celebrated in more than 100 countries around the world every May 3.
It said celebration was part of UNESCO’s activities to raise awareness on freedom of expression.
It said that the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is tagged: “Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda’’.
It said that defending the freedom of expression and press freedom was vital for human dignity, social progress and inclusive development.
“This year, the international community has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to prepare a long-term agenda for sustainable development to succeed the Millennium Development Goals when they end in 2015.
“Successfully implementing that agenda will require that all populations enjoy the fundamental rights of freedom of opinion and expression.
“These rights are essential to democracy, transparency, accountability and the rule of law,’’ it said.
It further called on member states to provide a platform through which journalist across the globe would be protected.
“Journalism provides a platform for informed discussion across a wide range of development issues.
“This issues ranges from environmental challenges and scientific progress to gender equality, youth engagement and peace building.
“Only when journalists are at liberty to monitor, investigate and criticise policies and actions can good governance exist,’’ it said.
The statement said that the current grave threats to press freedom around the world must be confronted.
It said that the UN General Assembly had condemned all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers around the world.
It, however, called on governments to act by condemning the killing of journalists while carrying out their duties.
“In many countries journalists and other media workers face systematic obstacles to reporting the truth, ranging from censorship, arrest and imprisonment to intimidation, attacks and even assassination.
“These outrageous abuses show that press freedom and the human rights it underpins are extremely fragile and must be actively defended.