UK’s Foreign Secretary pays tribute to journalists, bloggers and media organisations

World Press Freedom day is celebrated annually on 3 May to commemorate the fundamental principles of media freedom, to highlight long-standing and emerging threats to that freedom and to pay tribute to journalists and activists who have risked their safety to advance the public’s access to news and information.

{FILE IMAGE: Foreign Secretary William Hague meeting US Senator John McCain in London, 28 April 2011.} In the first half of 2010, Reporters Without Borders handled the cases of more than 50 journalists who had fled their home countries. The organisation also reported a surge in abductions: 51 reporters were kidnapped in 2010, up from 33 in 2009.

The British Government believes that freedom of expression is fundamental to building democracy. Citizens must be allowed to discuss and debate issues, to challenge their governments and make informed decisions. Journalists, bloggers, media organisations and individuals must be allowed to operate and to express themselves freely and safely and within international standards.

Governments need to respond to legitimate aspirations with reform not repression. Encouraging an open and effective press serves to improve the environment for long-term social, political and economic stability.

The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is “21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers”. UNESCO is organising events in more than 100 countries worldwide to mark the day. These include:

• A special event on 4 May at UN Headquarters in New York
• A regional conference in Windhoek reviewing the future of the media in Africa
• A series of global events hosted by UNESCO and Al Jazeera

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