Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interferences and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
From its founding in 1999, CIVIL – Center for Freedom has been continuously advocating for an uncompromising defense of freedom of expression and media freedoms. During the years of media darkness in Macedonia, when hate speech, false news and black propaganda were dominant media contents, it was bold to speak freely and to report on events professionally and impartially.
On the World Press Freedom Day, CIVIL is giving recognition to all the journalists who were carrying out their tasks honestly and professionally, at the cost of numerous pressures and risks. They are the pillar of the democratic efforts and guardians of the public interest, of the right of citizens to be informed about the events and processes in society.
At the same time, CIVIL is expressing respect and recognition also to the citizen journalists, who in a great part contributed to disclosing the events related to the nonviolent struggle for democracy in the past years. They were and have remained extremely important for the strengthening of freedom of expression and media freedoms.
CIVIL carried out a large number of projects and activities for supporting media freedom, which was the basis for forming a separate organizational unit and the CIVIL Media editorial in 2009, which concretely are implementing the long-term program and strategic commitments of the organization to advocate, promote and defend freedom of expression and media freedoms in Republic of Macedonia and beyond. In the most difficult days for the Macedonian media, CIVIL’s team, in cooperation with the citizen journalists, created a relevant, free and open media platform, which contributes daily to the democratic transformation of society.
Recently, CIVIL presented recommendations to the public for improving the situation of the media and media freedoms, in an attempt to contribute to the important processes initiated in this area.
CIVIL’s recommendations come at a time that is critical for freedom of expression and media freedoms. This is a period when many weaknesses of the institutions were manifested, but also of society, with an insufficient decisive transition of power and a slow transformation from a captured to a free society. This is a time that we can mark as an institutional and social limbo, in which the needs and hopes are stuck and opposing, on the one hand, and the difficult reality of the situation, the inertness and old habits on the other hand.
CIVIL, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, is again underlining and directing its recommendations that are the result of the experience over the years, as well as of the communication with numerous journalists, editorial colleagues, the Association of Journalists of Macedonia, experts and activists.
- There has to be a stop to impunity of those who in any which way endanger freedom of expression and media freedoms! Journalists have to be maximally protected from blackmail, pressures and attacks!
- The public service has to finally return to the public, whereas all those responsible for the erosion of the media freedoms have to face legal consequences.
- Democratic and transparent measures for strengthening of the independence of the media regulatory body (AAVMS), while the bodies for media self-regulation need to receive appropriate support from the institutions of the state, without conditioning and corruptive moves.
- The political parties, the institutions at the local and national level, and businesses have to respect freedom of expression and media freedoms, according to the constitutional, legal and international legal norms and standards.
- The legislation has to be harmonized with the needs of the media for self-regulation. Laws that regulate the media sphere have to be in line with the time and needs of the citizens, and not the centers of power, that is, they have to be socially responsible and be true articulators of the public interest.
- Financial independence of the media is a condition for media freedoms, but also for freedom of expression overall. The corruptive influence of the political and business centers of power should be identified and prevented with legal measures and maximum respect for professional ethics. Journalists have to be paid according to their labor.
- An enabling environment has to be created in society, in which freedom of expression, media freedoms and active citizenship are treated as resources of the society and the state for democratic development and the rule of law, and not as hostile attacks.
- Education and trainings for improving the skills of journalists have to be taken into account, which will be in accordance with the new technologies and new global trends in the media.
- This past period notes improvement in the domain of cooperation between civil society and the media, but it is far from being at the needed level. There is much unused space for essential and comprehensive cooperation between the two sectors, especially if the global trends in this area are taken into account.
- Directing the donor community towards the essential needs of the media for depoliticization, professionalization and independent work.
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