On May 3 the World Press Freedom Day was celebrated in many countries. The World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed in 1993 by United Nations General Assembly following a recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. In Armenia the tradition to celebrate the international professional day of journalists was established in 1997.
This year the theme of the World Press Freedom Day was Freedom of Information. The message of Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, among other things highlighted the fundamental importance of the right to know for upholding other basic rights, for furthering transparency, justice and development: “Hand-in-hand with the complementary notion of freedom of expression, it underpins democracy.”
“Far too many journalists exercise their profession in an environment where restrictions on information are the norm, where dealing with pressure, harassment intimidation or even physical assault are all in a day’s work. Last year UNESCO condemned the killing of 77 journalists. For the most part these were not war casualties but local reporters covering local stories”, the message of Irina Bokova says. The Director-General of UNESCO invited to observe a minute of silence for “those whom it is too late to help”, “the journalists who paid with their lives for our right to know”. At the same time, Irina Bokova stressed the significant advances that have been made: “More and more countries around the world are adopting freedom of information legislation. This makes it easier to scrutinize government actions, and it reinforces public accountability.” In conclusion Irina Bokova called upon governments, civil society, the news media and individuals everywhere to join forces with UNESCO in promoting Freedom of Information all over the world.