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HomeNewsLocal NewsFreedom of expression the focus of 30th World Press Freedom Day

Freedom of expression the focus of 30th World Press Freedom Day

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The global journalism fraternity celebrates the 30th commemoration of World Press Freedom Day on May 03, 2023, under the theme “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a Driver for all other human rights”.

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference.

Thirty years later, the connection between the freedom to seek, impart and receive information and the public good remains as relevant as it was 30 years ago.

May 3 should be a reminder to governments to respect their commitment to press freedom.

Media professionals should also take advantage of the day to address the following:

  • issues of press freedom and professional ethics
  • 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 Association of Caribbean Media Workers to mark World Press Freedom Day 2023 said the theme highlights the critical ‘role of the freedom to receive and impart ideas.”

In a statement to mark the day, “Freedom of Expression is not only enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but is listed as a fundamental right in many of our constitutions in the Caribbean. Indeed, a small number of countries have gone a step further and have enshrined press freedom.”

Freedom of expression is connected to all other human rights – education, health, freedom of movement and the people’s free will to elect their leaders.

In the absence of freedom of expression, more often than not through the media, the public cannot be adequately educated and informed about the other human rights to which they are entitled.

The pervasiveness of social media to inform public opinion poses an issue when considering Freedom of Expression and the dissemination of information. While Social Media could be used to spread necessary information, data, and facts, the ACM finds that it is also a bed of misinformation and disinformation.

The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) has some recommendations for decision/policy-makers in the Caribbean to ensure freedom of expression is upheld:

  • Utilise the rapid advances in Social Media as a mass communication tool to facilitate the two-way flow of information in the public’s interest.
  • Politicians and political parties, who have resorted to one-way communication through Tweets and Facebook videos and text posts, appear to be the avoidance of scrutiny at press conferences and interviews.
  • There should be invaluable space for journalism as means of freedom of expression.

Accurate and fair journalism remains a conduit to facilitate the public in ensuring public officials adhere to transparency, good governance and accountability.

In a statement marking the day, the Media Association of St. Kitts and Nevis shared that it has, as part of its mandate to improve the standard of journalism in the Federation since its reinstatement over the last year.

The statement reads, “On the eve of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, we hosted a very successful Media Training Workshop entitled Media and the Law, sponsored by the US Embassy. This workshop is our effort in helping to bolster and equip media workers to become better journalists and to perform their work within the ambit of the law. We also see the need for public education on the role of the media and the responsibilities of free expression in our community. 

Government also has a responsibility to create and maintain an enabling environment that fosters responsible free expression and transparency.

We will be closely monitoring the legislative agenda of the government to ensure that laws are passed that can help foster this environment while at the same time ensuring our membership takes full advantage of the tools available at our disposal in performing our duties.”

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