By Bartholomew Madukwe
Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, Friday called on governments, societies and individuals to do their utmost to protect the safety of all journalists.
The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media”, highlighted the need for action to upholding the right of journalists to carry out their vital work.
In his message during the World Press Freedom Day celebration organized at the United Nations Information Center, Lagos, Ban Ki-Moon said that the event was an opportunity for the United Nations to renew commitment in challenging times.
In his words: “The United Nations system has established a Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the issue of impunity. The plan aims to raise awareness and to support practical steps to create a free and safe working environment for journalists.
“On this World Press Freedom Day, we call on Governments, societies and individuals to do their utmost to protect the safety of all journalists, offline and online. Everyone has a voice; all must be able to speak freely and in safety.
“The dangers are not only physical: from cyber-attacks to bullying, the powerful are deploying numerous tools to try to stop the media from shedding light on misrule and misdeeds.
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a cornerstone of good governance, sustainable development, and lasting peace and security. Yet every day around the world, journalists and media workers are under attack. They face intimidation, threats and violence.”
Ban Ki-Moon noted that over the past decade, more than 600 journalists have been killed and at least 120 in the past year alone, adding that hundreds more have been detained. Expressing concern that so many of the perpetrators escape any form of punishment, he pointed out that assault on journalists is an assault on the right of all. people to the truth.
President of Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr Femi Adeshina, asserted that the security agencies believe that the media contribute to the negative image most members of the public have about them, noting that it characterizes the relationship of the media and the law enforcement agencies.
Adeshina pointed out that in order to move forward the police and the media need to engage one another by setting up a partnership that must be cultivated, adding that there must be a new thinking with mutual respect between the two parties.
“I call on journalists to be ethical and also call on the law enforcement agencies to be ethical too. The mindset of the Nigerian media has to change from being adversary to law enforcement agencies. The media has a history of crusade in Nigeria” he added.