WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY TO BE
CELEBRATED IN WINDHOEK (NAMIBIA)
Paris, April 5 (No.2001-53)
- World Press Freedom Day, celebrated on May 3, will this year be marked by two
events to be held in Windhoek (Namibia): the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press
Freedom Prize 2001 award ceremony and a conference (May 3 to 5) on the impact of
the 1991 Windhoek seminar on media independence and pluralism.
By making Windhoek the centre
of this year’s World Press Freedom Day celebrations, UNESCO wished to recall
that the Namibian capital was the scene of the 1991 Seminar on Promoting an
Independent and Pluralistic African Press, a historic date for the media of
Africa and the world. The impact of the Windhoek Declaration - adopted on
May 3, 1991 - was such that the General Assembly of the United Nations in
December 1993 decided to celebrate World Press Freedom Day on its anniversary.
The award ceremony of the
UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2001 will take place on the
morning of May 3 in the presence of the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro
Matsuura, and of the highest Namibian authorities. Louise Frechette, Deputy
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Jyoti Shankar Singh, representating the
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Ana María Busquets de Cano,
President of the Cano Foundation, will also be present.
The 2001 Prize laureate is the
Myanmar journalist U Win Tin, who is presently under detention. A former editor
of the Myanmar daily newspaper Hanthawati and a founder of the National
League for Democracy, the laureate was arrested in July 1989 and sentenced to 14
years in prison for his alleged membership of the outlawed Communist Party of
Myanmar. In 1996, U Win Tin was tried in the Insein prison of Rangoon and
sentenced to an additional five years for breaking prison regulations
prohibiting the possession of writing materials. Later that year, he was moved
to Myingyan jail north of Rangoon where his family and friends could no longer
visit him or send him food and medicine. In early October 1997, he was
transferred to Rangoon General Hospital, where he remains and is reported to be
Prescott Low, representative of
the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), will receive the UNESCO/Guillermo
Cano World Press Freedom Prize on behalf of the detained Burmese journalist. The
US$25,000 Prize is awarded yearly on the recommendation of an independent jury.
The award ceremony will be
followed, May 3 to 5, by the conference Ten years on: Assessment, Challenges
and Prospects which will bring together close to 300 journalists, editors,
representatives of non-governmental organizations and professional organizations
from Africa and elsewhere.
Themes to be tackled will
include: Obstacles to Media Freedom in Africa; a Survey on freedom of expression
on the Internet; the economic challenges facing media corporations; the status
of journalists and media professional organizations will be discussed in plenary
sessions on May 3 and 4.
Three workshops, on May 5, will
focus on: Political, Social and Economic Obstacles: Media Legislation,
Ownership, Independence and Pluralism; the New Communication and Information
Technologies; The Status of Journalists and Media Professional Organizations.
Just before the close of the event, a session will be devoted to the impact of
the Windhoek Declaration.
Beside the two events in
Windhoek, other activities around the world will celebrate World Press Freedom
Day whose theme, this year, is racism as 2001 has been proclaimed the
International Year for Mobilization against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
The Secretary-General of the
United Nations, Kofi Annan, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, and the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, will issue a
joint message for this occasion.
A press kit on World Press
Freedom Day 2001 is available from the Press Service: (+33) (0)1 45 68 17 48 -
For more information: http://www.unesco.org/webworld/com_media/wpfd/index.html