Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
3 May 2022
12:43 pm

Persecution of journalists under the spotlight on World Press Freedom Day

Citizen Reporter

It sheds light on ways in which journalism is endangered by surveillance and digitally-mediated attacks on journalists.

Picture: iStock

The continued arrest and killing of journalists is under the spotlight as the media observes World Press Freedom Day (WPF).

WPFD is a globally recognised day and was declared by the United Nations General Assembly to be celebrated annually on 3 May to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press.

It highlights the degree of freedom that journalists, news organisations, and netizens have in each country, and the efforts made by authorities to respect this freedom.

With many journalists being under attack globally, this day is marked as a remembrance for journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.

This year’s theme is ‘journalism under digital siege’, and according to the United Nations (UN), WPFD sheds light on ways in which journalism is endangered by surveillance and digitally-mediated attacks on journalists, and the consequences of all this on public trust in digital communications.

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The theme was chosen following the Pegasus project– an international investigative journalism initiative that revealed governments’ espionage on journalists, opposition politicians, and others using the private Pegasus spyware developed by the Israeli technology and cyber-arms company NSO Group.

“Don’t let them prevent journalists from telling the truth. When Press Freedom is silenced, when journalists are censored, all our other freedoms & rights are at risk,” United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) tweeted.

Purpose of the Day

According to the South African government, World Press Freedom Day gives an opportunity to:

  • celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
  • assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
  • defend the media from attacks on their independence.

Journalists under siege

Journalists such as Julian Paul Assange, have been under scrutiny as people call for his release.

Assange is an Australian editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006.

In 2010, he published a series of leaks provided by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, and was therefore investigated by the United States government.

“Today is World Press Freedom Day; and the award-winning journalist Julian Assange is in a max security jail in the UK, awaiting extradition to the United States for the “crime” of revealing evidence of war crimes. Free the press, free Assange now,” @serenatinari tweeted.

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