World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. The Declaration of Windhoek (Namibia) is a declaration on the fundamental principles of press freedom within the frames of UNESCO’s seminar: “Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic Press in Africa”, held from 29 April to 3 May 1991. Two years later, in December 1993, following the recommendation of the UNESCO’s General Conference, the UN General Assembly proclaims this date as World Press Freedom Day. The Declaration of Windhoek has been following the principles of freedom of expression, as indicated in Article 19 in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (10 December 1948). This day, 3 of May, is a possibility to commemorate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess the situation with press freedom worldwide, defend the media from attacks on their independence and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
“Journalism represents a platform for informed discussion for wide range of development topics – starting from ecological challenges and scientific progress and up to gender balance, from youth engagement and up to peace building. Only when journalists are free to observe, research or criticise policies and actions, good governance may exist“– said the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon on the occasion of this day.
The focus of this years’ commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day is on three inter-related topics: the media importance in development; the safety of journalists and the rule of law; and the sustainability and integrity of journalism. (the links lead to UNESCO’s website).
On this day, once again we need to face the fact that Macedonia continues to sink into media darkness. The country goes down on the rank order for years now. On the rank order of Reporters without Borders is on the 123 position, whilst Freedom House accommodated this country on the 122 position, along with Congo and Kenya.
Macedonia is on the bottom in Europe, together with Turkey, which is the last. Political prisoners are a reality, a matter of fact as concluded by the US Government itself, in their last report delivered at the beginning of this year.
Media workers and associations were deceived in the three-year-long manipulation with the media legislation, where the country didn’t take a single step forward. On the contrary, only further opportunities for control and pressure on journalists were created.
The few brave media and journalists, who still work for the dignity of the journalistic line of work, are target of everyday threats, pressures, legal suits, hate speech, as promoted by distinguished media apologists of government policies.
Manipulations and hate speech were clearly expressed during the election process, as concluded in CIVIL’s Report on the Elections Observation. The hate speech, vulgarities and rude language are promoted in the government-oriented media, whilst the relevant institutions define those actions as freedom of speech.
Today is the day to recall all this and think what to do next? Monday is a new working day for everyone. Will it be same as yesterday? Or will it be even worse? And more silent.