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Journalists Worldwide Hailed for Courage and Professionalism in Dangerous Conditions

World press guardians join State Department praise of journalists

Posted: May 5, 2005

STATEMENT ON WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY
Assistant Secretary of State for
Western Hemisphere Affairs
Roger F. Noriega

May 5, 2005

  AUDIO  

This week we recognize World Press Freedom Day. The United States, like other nations in our hemisphere, regards a free and independent press as an essential component of democracy.

We celebrate the journalists who valiantly report to society on issues such as corruption, drug trafficking, human rights violations, and trafficking in persons. They remain faithful to their duty and professional ethics in spite of threats and retaliation. Some journalists in Latin America have even paid the ultimate price, with their lives, to report the truth and uncover wrongdoing.

Sadly, in Latin America, there is still one dictatorship, Cuba, that continues to systematically deny its citizens the right to information. And in other countries there are threats to this most fundamental democratic right. The U.S. will continue to unconditionally support the rights of a free and fair press.
 

FIFTEENTH WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY
Press Statement
Richard Boucher, Spokesman

Washington, DC
May 3, 2005

The United States is pleased to celebrate World Press Freedom Day. Events during the last year again demonstrated the crucial role the press plays to advance the struggle for freedom. In Ukraine, the courage of journalists who rejected attempts by the previous regime to manipulate reports about the presidential election helped launch the Orange Revolution and led directly to the country’s democratic breakthrough. In the Kyrgyz Republic and Lebanon independent media provided citizens with crucial information to defend their right to choose their own governments.

In support of freedom of expression, the United States works with foreign journalists and media organizations to help build their capacity to gather and report news. The Department’s Human Rights and Democracy Fund annually provides $3 million in grants for journalism training, and the development of independent printing presses, and radio and TV stations. The International Visitor Program and other U.S.-sponsored exchange programs assist foreign journalists in developing professional contacts with their U.S. counterparts.

Journalism is often a dangerous profession. Today, we take this opportunity to express solidarity with the brave journalists who risk their lives to inform the public and express their views. We reaffirm our support for the many organizations that work to protect the rights of independent media and support the work of journalists around the world. The United States will continue working to advance press freedom as a key part of our efforts to promote democracy and human rights.
 

Washington -- Global press freedom guardians have joined the U.S. State Department in paying tribute to the courage and professionalism of journalists around the world who often brave conflict areas and war zones to perform their duties.

In a May 3 joint declaration released by the Organization of American States (OAS), Eduardo Bertoni, the OAS media guardian or "special rapporteur," joined his colleagues representing similar groups worldwide in praising the journalists who have been killed or wounded due to their professional activities.

In addition to Bertoni, the declaration was issued by Ambeyi Ligabo from the United Nations, Miklos Haraszti from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Andrew Chigovera from the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.

The declaration said journalists frequently face "murder attempts, intimidations, and harassment because of their inquiries on political, social, and economic issues." The OAS said that "unfortunately, in most cases these crimes are not adequately punished; an end to impunity for the perpetrators of such acts would reinforce the role that the rule of law must play in all societies."

The declaration was issued on World Press Freedom Day.

The press advocates emphasized the importance of all forms of media, including print, radio, television and the Internet, in the "exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression." Free expression, they said, is a "fundamental and inalienable right that contributes to the consolidation of democracy and to the development of a civil society based on mutual respect, dialogue, and tolerance."

They added that "imparting information, spreading knowledge, and creating awareness are basic components" of the right to free expression.

"Any obstacle to the free circulation of ideas and opinions hinders freedom of expression and its beneficial consequences," according to the press advocates.

"In this context," they said, "the work of the press and media professionals represents an exceptional tool for the promotion of freedom of expression throughout the world."

The State Department said May 3 that events during 2004, when a number of journalists were murdered for exposing official corruption and other criminal activity, "again demonstrated the crucial role the press plays to advance the struggle for freedom."

In support of freedom of expression, the State Department said the United States works with foreign journalists and media organizations to help build their capacity to gather and report news.

The State Department said its Human Rights and Democracy Fund annually provides $3 million in grants for journalism training, and for the development of independent printing presses and radio and television stations. The International Visitor Program and other U.S.-sponsored exchange programs also assist foreign journalists in developing professional contacts with their U.S. counterparts, said the State Department.

The United States takes "this opportunity to express solidarity with the brave journalists who risk their lives to inform the public and express their views," the State Department added. "We reaffirm our support for the many organizations that work to protect the rights of independent media and support the work of journalists around the world. The United States will continue working to advance press freedom as a key part of our efforts to promote democracy and human rights."

Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

For more information on World Press Freedom Day, please visit the website at http://www.worldpressfreedomday.org/

 

 

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