World Press Freedom Day

Marking World Press Freedom Day 2021 on May 3, the secretarys general of both the United Nations and the Council of Europe called for urgent action to stop threats to media freedom.

AEJ UK chairman and AEJ international media freedom representative William Horsley wrote a commentary entitled The Media Freedom Fightback Gets Stronger.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the coronavirus pandemic and its severe impact on media revenues could lead to a “media extinction event”.

The Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić expressed concern about attacks on journalists and limitations to press freedom in many parts of Europe in a joint statement with Germany’s federal minister of justice and consumer protection, Christine Lambrecht, representing the German presidency of the Council of Europe’s committee of ministers. Earlier Ms. Pejčinović Burić urged European governments to show stronger political will to protect journalists and independent journalism as she marked the release of the its annual report on media freedom of the Council of Europe Platform for the protection and safety of journalists.

AEJ UK chairman and AEJ international media freedom representative William Horsley contributed a personal message of support for editor and journalist Maria Ressa in the Philippines as part of an innovative and unprecedented global solidarity campaign led by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the #HoldTheLine coalition. Their website features hundreds of videos from prominent supporters around the world – with a call for public contributions – that will stream on a continuous loop until all charges are dropped against Ressa and the media outlet Rappler she founded.

Ressa faces a possible lifetime in prison in the Philippines. She was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2018 and won this year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

2021 marks exactly 30 years since the landmark “Windhoek Declaration” when African journalists set out three key demands – for media freedom, media independence and media pluralism – that laid the foundation for a United Nations global campaign proclaiming the date as World Press Freedom Day. Then, South Africa’s apartheid regime was crumbling and the Cold War was becoming history in Europe.

In 2021, World Press Freedom Day was hosted in Namibia and key themes included the survival of independent and local media, enforcing the responsibilities of internet giants, and public media literacy in the face of the “disinfodemic” and persecution of journalists through anti-media “fake news” laws.

World Press Freedom Day 2021
AEJ media freedom representative commentary
UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Council of Europe joint statement
CoE Secretary General urges more political will
CoE 2021 annual report on media freedom
AEJ media representative on Maria Ressa
Maria Ressa global solidarity campaign
Maria Ressa wins UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2021
UNESCO World Press Freedom Day
United Nations World Press Freedom Day