Journalists observe World Press Freedom Day in Maldives
A South Asia conference to mark World Press Freedom Day, was organized 2 May 2007 under the theme, "Press Freedom and Development in South Asia", by the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) in collaboration with the Maldives Ministry of Information, Arts and Culture and the Haveeru Daily, with UNESCO's support.
It was attended by some 70 key local and other South Asian journalists and media personnel who were engaged in panel discussions on a number of issues relating to this subject such as : Press Freedom, Democracy and Development in South Asia, chaired by Indrajit Banerjee (AMIC); Public Service Broadcasting and Community Media, chaired by Jocelyne Josiah; Censorship, Safety and Impunity, chaired by Javed Jabbar (Pakistan); and Internet, New Media and Freedom of Expression, chaired by Kanak Dixit (Nepal).
This is the first time that this Conference was held as a regional activity and the first time to be hosted in the Maldives. A commitment was made by the government of the Maldives to mark World Press Freedom Day every year hence.
The President of the Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in his the keynote speech during the official ceremony commemorating this event 3 May, shared his personal experiences with journalism and confirmed his government's commitment to policy reforms leading to democratization of the media, which are presently ongoing through the Ministry of Information and Arts.
The "South Asia Press Freedom Report" published by the International Federation of Journalists with UNESCO support was officially released.
A special televised debate on South Asian issues relating to Press Freedom and Development as well as a lecture for students on the role of media in building a democracy, wound up the days' official celebrations.
The Maldivian turnout for this WPFD Conference seemed indicative of the seriousness and commitment with which the government viewed the matter of freedom of the press and the thirst for knowledge and support on the part of the local journalists in their efforts in this field. This activity gave high visibility to UNESCO and AMIC must be felicitated for the hard work involved in making it become a reality.