Freedom of the press and the right to a prosperous future

Freedom of the press and the right to a prosperous future
Columnist Mohammed al Hammadi - Jusoor Post

Thirty years ago, the United Nations General Assembly designated May 3 as World Press Freedom Day, with the aim of reminding governments of the need to respect their commitment to freedom of the press. As the United Nations states in its literature, it is “a day for reflection among media professionals on issues of press freedom and professional ethics,” and it serves as an opportunity to:

  • Celebrate the basic principles of press freedom.
  • Assess the state of press freedom around the world.
  • Defend the media from attacks on its independence.
  • Salute the journalists who lost their lives in the performance of their duties.


This is what is recorded and known to everyone, but despite the passage of three decades since this declaration, we notice that freedom of the press is declining and the lives of media professionals are in increasing danger, especially in areas of conflict and disputes!


This was clearly expressed by Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in his speech when he said: “As we mark 30 years of World Press Freedom Day, all around the world, we are seeing the forceful closure of those frontiers and an alarming and aggressive trend towards the shutdown of freedom of speech.”


In recent years, and specifically since our celebration of World Press Freedom Day in the year 2023 until today, the decline witnessed in press freedom has been worrying and is considered unprecedented, not only in the Arab countries where more than 140 journalists were killed, injured, and dozens arrested, but also in Western and democratic countries such as Germany, France, Italy, as well as the United States, where journalists have been suppressed, imprisoned, intimidated, and banned from press conferences!


The matter reached the point that a well-established newspaper such as the New York Times decided to block mentioning the name of Palestine, the occupied territories, or the word genocide, despite the United Nations’ recognition of the existence of genocidal acts in Gaza, while other institutions consider merely criticizing the actions of the Israeli army against the Palestinians to be “anti-Semitic”!


This made the Western public, before the Arab public, discover the blatant bias of much of the Western media towards Israel, moving away from the professionalism and objectivity it always claims.


All of this is happening in media institutions despite the dangerous situation in Gaza, which was referred to by Irene Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, in her speech a few days ago, when she said: “The conflict in Gaza is the deadliest and most dangerous for journalists, as the number of those killed during the conflict there reached about 140, which is much higher than any number recorded by the United Nations in modern history during conflicts.”


The world is in need of a real stance to stop the dangers and difficulties that journalists face in their work. Journalism is not a crime, and conveying the truth is a human right that cannot be withdrawn or given up, because giving up then simply means giving up the right to a safe and prosperous future for nations and future generations.