May 3rd was declared World Press Freedom Day or World Press Day by United Nation Assembly to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The day is used to “celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.”
The theme for 2019 World Press Freedom Day is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.” The theme of the day aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the UN General Assembly in 2015. SDG 16, concerns issues of peace and democracy as preconditions for equitable and sustainable development. It states that: “When freedom of expression and safety of journalists are protected, the media can play a vital role in preventing conflict and in supporting peaceful democratic processes.” SDG 16.10 also urges states to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.”
Ensuring the safety of journalists is the primary way by which we can foster the independence and freedom of the press, as crucial for democracy. Such a goal is also vital to ensure public access to information. And indeed the threat is real.