By Princess-Ekwi Ajide, Abuja
May 2 (Newshour.com.ng) – The European Union, EU, has call for the protection of women journalists around the world. The EU stated this during the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day.
It is three decades since the World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed in 1993 hence year 2023 marks the 30th anniversary of substantial progress towards achieving a free press and freedom of expression around the world.
Reports say, proliferation of independent media across countries of the world and the rise of digital technologies have enabled the free flow of information but, media freedom, safety of journalists and freedom of expression are increasingly under attack, which impacts negatively on the fulfillment of other human rights.
According to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists the year 2022 was deadly for members of the press as at least 67 journalists and media workers were killed during the year, which is the highest number since 2018 and an almost 50% increase from 2021,
To counter these critical situations and threats, press freedom, safety of journalists and access to information took centre stage 75 years ago and the right to freedom of expression, became enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as a prerequisite and a driver to the enjoyment of all other human rights.
In a statement in commemoration of this year’s Special 30th anniversary celebration of World Press Freedom Day, Press Officer, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Modestus Chukwulaka, on behalf of European Union, said, everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Chukwulaka, said, while the preservation of free, independent and pluralistic media is vital for resilient and healthy democracies, press freedom is at stake in most parts of the world today, saying that journalists, media workers and all those who bring independent quality information, shed light on the gross human rights violations and atrocities going on around the world and hold those in power to account increasingly face discredit, threats and attacks, especially through disinformation and as such, journalists and media workers worldwide continue to to pay a high price for practicing their profession.
According to him, women journalists are particularly vulnerable to threats and increasing attacks, both offline and online as they are exposed to stigmatization, sexist hate speech, trolling, sexual and gender-based violence and even murder.
He said that 73% of women journalists have experienced online threats, abuse and harassment in the course of their work and many of them have been detained.
Chukwulaka, noted that as a staunch defender of the right to freedom of expression, the EU condemns all forms of threats and violence against journalists and support media workers in danger through local missions and via dedicated programmes, across the globe just as it is taking action within the Union: countering Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP), regulating digital services and markets, and proposing an EU Media Freedom Act as well as building up critical capacity to counter foreign information manipulation and interference, and to help citizens in Europe strengthen their resilience to disinformation, manipulation and propaganda, with initiatives such as the EUvsDisinfo platform and the European Digital Media Observatory.
He said, the EU will remain committed to engaging with governments, the media and civil society, both in international fora as well as at the local level, to take initiative and strengthen press freedom around the world as defending and promoting press freedom is a universal mission that knows no borders.
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