World Press Freedom Day celebrated in Windhoek

News essential for humanity

03 May 2021 | Events

Windhoek • [email protected]

The world needs to step up efforts to keep journalists safe, because in the past ten years, a journalist has been killed every four days.

Online harassment is equally serious, with particularly female journalists bearing the brunt of attacks.

Two of the world's most targeted women journalists, including Maria Ressa of the Philippines, have already been subjected to 2.5 million online posts in which they have been harassed and threatened.

This is according to the director-general of Unesco, Audrey Azoulay, speaking yesterday afternoon during the official opening of the 30th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration and the celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2021 in Windhoek.

More than 3 000 people from all over the world registered to attend the online conference from 29 April until today, as no more than 100 people were able to attend the proceedings in person at the Safari Hotel and Conference Centre.

The theme of this year's World Press Freedom Day, which has been celebrated annually on 3 May since 1993, is "information as a public good" for the benefit of society.

Azoulay says this year's theme “emphasises the indisputable importance of verified and reliable information".

Tackling misinformation

"It draws attention to the essential role of free and professional journalists in the production and dissemination of this information by tackling misinformation and other harmful content."

She expressed her concern about the physical safety of journalists and said online harassment of especially female journalists is just as worrying.

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), pointed out that journalists are mankind's main allies in the fight against false and misleading information.

Unlike misinformation, true and verified information provided by free, independent and pluralistic media is a necessity for mankind. Guterres referred to it as "life-saving".

He says journalists and media workers were often exposed to great personal dangers in carrying out their work and called on governments to do everything in their power to protect them.

Pres. Hage Geingob did not attend the proceedings yesterday. His press secretary, Dr Alfredo Hengari, had earlier informed the media that the head of state was in quarantine "on recommendation" as he was in contact with many people during his visit to the Zambezi region last weekend.

The Prime Minister, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, on behalf of the Namibian government, welcomed the delegates and referred to Namibia's number 1 position in Africa on the Press Freedom Index of Journalists Without Borders.

She said meaningful and factual information is the foundation of a democratic society.

Furthermore, she made a plea that the media help with nation building and the contribution to the prosperity and development of society.

She also pointed out the importance of journalists verifying facts, putting the public interest above their own.

To emphasise the importance of information within the online media environment, the following three topics have been addressed over the past four days:
• Steps to ensure the economic viability of news media;
• Mechanisms to ensure transparency of internet companies;
• Improved media and information literacy (MIL) so that people are able to recognize, appreciate, defend and insist on good journalism.

One of the important discussions led by The Editors' Forum for Africa (TAEF) dealt with the compilation of a successor document for the Windhoek Declaration, which was accepted in 1991 after the Windhoek seminar in the Namibian capital.

This will be called the Windhoek Declaration 30+.

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