08.05.2014 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

The contribution of the media for democracy in Senegal

The Communication & Information Regional Advisor of UNESCO Dakar, Jean-Pierre Ilboudo, opened the ceremony in the Grand Théatre of Dakar ©UNESCO

"No one denies the qualitative contribution of the media in the construction of democracy in Senegal,” said Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director of the UNESCO Dakar Regional Office for the Sahel. She spoke at the celebration of the World Press Freedom Day, celebrated on 3 May 2014 in the Grand Theatre in Dakar with the participation of media professionals and students.

“Journalists are essential to ensure our right to knowledge and they should therefore enjoy a favorable environment for promotion of democracy and development of the media,” she added.

Ms Ndong-Jatta also emphasized the responsibility that journalists must demonstrate: "A journalist must respect human dignity, privacy of citizens, be more rigorous in the information process and avoid writing about things that could endanger public order."

This year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day 2014 was “Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda.”

Once-in-a-generation opportunity

"This year, the international community has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to prepare a long-term agenda for sustainable development to succeed the Millennium Development Goals when they end in 2015,” stated Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations and Mrs. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO in their joint message on World Press Freedom Day.

In order to do that, the state needs the press, and press needs freedom, the message states: ”Successfully implementing that agenda will require that all populations enjoy the fundamental rights of freedom of opinion and expression. These rights are essential to democracy, transparency, accountability and the rule of law. They are vital for human dignity, social progress and inclusive development.”

71 journalists killed in 2013

The ceremony in Senegal was also an opportunity for UNESCO and its national and international partners to honor the memory of journalists killed in 2013 while exercising their work. According to the NGO Reporters without Boarders, 71 journalists were killed in 2013.

To mark the day, UNESCO Dakar, in collaboration with the Senegalese film director Diabou Bessane, produced a documentary about the Senegalese pioneers of the press. These journalists returned to the basic principles of the profession but especially encouraged the new generation of journalists to adopt best practices of journalism.

The conference included with a lively debate on "Towards a sustainable and professional journalism: free media, rule of law and sustainable development (post 2015)" hosted by Mouminy Camara, a researcher at CESTI (a school of journalism at the Cheikh Ante Diop University in Dakar) and Ibrahima Kh. Ndiaye, Secretary-General of SYNPICS (Union of Information and Communication Professionals in Senegal).

Finally, a theatre group called “Espoirs de la Banlieue” from the suburbs of Dakar, performed a sketch on press freedom.

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