Thu. Jul 16th, 2020

Press Freedom Day in South Africa: What you need to know

press freedomWorld Press Freedom Day is observed annually on 3 May. It was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993.

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World Press Freedom Day urges citizens from across the globe to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom and to assess the state of said freedom throughout the world.

In addition, citizens are called on to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

World Press Freedom Day 2019

Media for democracy: Journalism and elections in times of disinformation

The theme for this year’s Press Freedom Day discusses the current challenges faced by media in elections and its potential in supporting peace and reconciliation processes.

It also serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom, as well as the initiatives develop in favour of press freedom.

It is a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down. Journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.

Moreover, it calls on governments to respect their commitment to press freedom. The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, said press freedom is the cornerstone of democratic societies:

“All States, all nations, are strengthened by information, debate and the exchange of opinions. At a time of growing discourse of mistrust and delegitimization of the press and journalism, it is essential that we guarantee freedom of opinion through the free exchange of ideas and information based on factual truths.”

Freedom of speech violations

2018 was described as the most dangerous year for journalists. Ruben Pat was killed execution-style outside a Mexican beach bar. An Israeli army sniper shot Yaser Murtaja.

Bulgarian Viktoria Marinova was beaten, raped and strangled. A car bomb killed Malta’s Daphne Caruana Galizia. The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in October made headlines.

According to Reporters Without Borders, hostility towards journalists and other media personnel also increased on a global scale. Furthermore, some 80 journalists were killed, 348 were jailed, and 60 were held hostage.

According to the report, press freedom in South Africa is “guaranteed but fragile”. Even though our constitution protects freedom of media, journalists are harassed and subjected to intimidation.

“An increase in abusive language and hate speech against journalists by an opposition leader in 2018 confirmed that press freedom has yet to be consolidated in South Africa.”

Politicians hounded Karima Brown, columnist Azad Essa lost his column after publishing an article critical of China. EFF leader Julius Malema stepped up his threats against Ferial Haffajee, Ranjeni Munusamy, Pauli Van Wyk, and Palesa Morudu.

Read – Julius Malema suggests that EFF ‘stop inviting’ journalists to events

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