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UN Secretary-General urges to speak with one voice for press freedom

(Secretary-General António Guterres briefs reporters on 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov. UN Photo: Evan Schneider)

The United Nations Secretary-General’s message on World Press Freedom Day 2023

For three decades, on World Press Freedom Day, the international community has celebrated the work of journalists and media workers.

This day highlights a basic truth: all our freedom depends on press freedom.

Freedom of the press is the foundation of democracy and justice. It gives all of us the facts we need to shape opinions and speak truth to power. And as this year’s theme reminds us, press freedom represents the very lifeblood of human rights.

But in every corner of the world, freedom of the press is under attack.

Truth is threatened by disinformation and hate speech seeking to blur the lines between fact and fiction, between science and conspiracy.

The increased concentration of the media industry into the hands of a few, the financial collapse of scores of independent news organizations, and an increase of national laws and regulations that stifle journalists are further expanding censorship and threatening freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, journalists and media workers are directly targeted on and offline as they carry out their vital work. They are routinely harassed, intimidated, detained and imprisoned.

At least 67 media workers were killed in 2022 — an unbelievable 50 per cent increase over the previous year. Nearly three quarters of women journalists have experienced violence online, and one in four have been threatened physically.

Ten years ago, the United Nations established a Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists to protect media workers and end impunity for crimes committed against them.

On this and every World Press Freedom Day, the world must speak with one voice.

Stop the threats and attacks.

Stop detaining and imprisoning journalists for doing their jobs.

Stop the lies and disinformation.

Stop targeting truth and truth-tellers.

As journalists stand up for truth, the world stands with them.