World Press Freedom Day celebrated by UNESCO's New York Office
UNESCO's New York Office commemorated yesterday World Press Freedom Day with a luncheon and roundtable discussion on "Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity" at the United Nations, bringing together more than 150 UN delegates, journalists, and representatives of non-governmental organizations and members of the academic community.
One thousand news media professionals around the world have been killed trying to report the news over the past 10 years - almost two deaths every week, according to a new report released by the International News Safety Institute (INSI).
Participants explored the increasingly difficult terrain that media professional navigate in order to report news from conflict areas and so-called "grey zones", where power vacuums had led to dangerously anarchic situations.
"In these grey zones the situation is much more difficult simply because there is no rationale solution," said Georges Malbrunot, the Le Figaro correspondent who in 2004 spent 124 days as a hostage of a group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq. "Conflict areas are becoming increasingly difficult for journalists, where danger can come from any moment at any side."
"In addition to murder, journalists are increasing subject to threats and physical attack" said Judith Matloff, representing INSI and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
Jon Williams, from BBC News, came to New York to muster support among the diplomatic community and the international media for the release of his colleague, British journalist Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza on 12 March.
"It is vital that we create a network of solidarity with journalists, especially those who work in high risk zones," declared Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, President of Mexican El Universal. Regarding the role of the United Nations as well as UNESCO, Early Ortiz said: "These two institution should work towards... demanding a greater responsibility of all Member States."
The UNESCO event followed an earlier programme chaired by Kiyotaka Akasaka, UN Under-Secretary General for Communication and Public Information that also commemorated World Press Freedom Day. UNESCO sponsored the Ealy Ortiz participation in this programme. In addition, UNESCO was represented by Hélène-Marie Gosselin, who delivered the Director General's message to United Nations delegates.
<- Back to: News articles