In many developing countries, the media still suffers obstacles to its freedom of expression. World Press Freedom Day, celebrated by UNESCO, is a chance to shed light on the dangerous everyday lives of journalists and challenges faced by the media who take risks to bring the truth to the world. According to the 2015 report by Reporters without Borders, there was a drastic decline in freedom of information from 2013 to 2015.
But the threats to media freedom differ from one country to another, and vary from journalists being killed to fear and censorship. Daily News Egypt spoke to 18 journalists and media officers from around the world, who bravely promote freedom of media in sometimes unfavourable environments. They voice their views on the situation of media freedom day in their countries.
Journalism is the non-violent mirror of society. In my country, where there is ongoing war, journalism became a weapon. Still, it has to be used in respect of ethics and morality. – Rama Jarmakani, Journalist, Syria
Journalism in Mexico suffers from a double attack. The state physically assaults, threatens and intimidates communicators with impunity. Meanwhile, organised crime groups torture and murder journalists. Every day, the situation gets worse. If we do not stop slaughter, press freedom can be written off. – Liliana Estrada, Researcher and writer, Mexico
In Russia, the Kremlin is in control of all media which has significant influence since the beginning of the 2000s. They started with the attack on independent TV channels, and in 2014 they blocked three independent news websites. Russian mass media became a tool of propaganda. TV is full of hate speech and brainwashing. – Pavel Andreev, Magazine Director, Russia
Private media in Algeria has long been relatively free and untroubled by the regime, which wanted to promote a false democratic image of the country. But since the re-election of President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika in 2014, media that opposed him has been facing retaliatory pressure, mainly financially. To be truly free, private media in Algeria needs to find a way to secure and protect its financial independence. – Mohamed Baala, Journalist, Algeria
Journalists in Ivory Coast have long been harassed, but the situation worsened with the post-electoral crisis of 2014. Nonetheless, things in the past three years have been considerably improving. Much has been done for freedom of information, but we have to do more because freedom of the media is the barometer of the implementation of democracy. – Kra Bernard, Journalist, Ivory Coast
Freedom of the media in Bhutan has seen huge growth in the last six years, especially with the advent of democracy. There have been occasional problems, but on the whole the movement has been forward. The media now has a major impact on good governance, corruption, abuse of power, etc…it has also helped to strengthen and promote culture. These are exciting times in the country. – Tenzing Lamsang, Editor-in-chief, Bhutan
Superficially, South Korea is an established democracy, but it still suffers from military dictatorship. The Intelligence Agency and prosecutors still practice illegal surveillance of citizens. The most important problem is the indifference of the citizens regarding those outrageous acts. If we don’t stand against this, we might lose the freedom the previous generation fought for. – Kim Subin, Journalist and news bureau director, South Korea
Nicaragua did not value its democratic institutions enough to protect them, and freedom of speech is now threatened. Pressure is on the rise, resignation and decadence. Freedom is a process of creativity, courage and rage. I think very few people hold values. My admiration is for everyone in the world who swims against the current of authoritarianism, like Egypt which tries and keeps trying. – Yoctan Vilchez, Activist, journalist and professor, Nicaragua
Pakistan was the first country to have approved the freedom of information law in South Asia in 2004. We enjoyed media for over a decade. After 10 years, it’s now on the wane, because the media failed to remain neutral. The situation is chaotic and getting more difficult. Journalists must unite to fight threats in the name of religion, national security and fighting unknown powers. – Irshad Ali Khan, Programme producer and editor, Pakistan
Philippine media has the freedom to report and publish without intervention. Most of the time this freedom is not used wisely, reporting only about disasters and dramatised news. This freedom should be used to educate citizens on how to contribute to nation building and human development. – Mark Blanco, Government officer and writer, Philippines
We always blame external factors for the lack of media freedom, but we also do which is a moral threat. We should be professional and get more knowledge to help in making the best decision in every situation. – Nattaya Waeweerakoupt, Editor and programme moderator, Thailand.
Before searching freedom of expression, we must know ourselves deeper and really connect to them. Then we can communicate our differences with love and respect. Life offers us a variety of options, so not all choosing the same one. Be free.- Majda Saber, Reporter, Morocco
Since the independence of Costa Rica, the liberty of expression has been crucial and, with the elimination of the army in 1949, freedom expanded. I don’t know what will happen to my country without the many social groups who tend to protest on the streets about many things which is extremely important, especially when freedom of speech is threatened by the government. As political and economic barriers disappear, citizens unite to defend the right to freedom that we have at birth. – Alfonso Muñoz, Economist, Costa Rica
What is freedom of information? Is it a basic human right? Is it a mirror of democracy? Is it in an opportunity to tell the truth? It’s all of it. We have many problems with freedom of information in Ukraine. The oligarchs own the most popular TV channels. They use the media for their political and economic aims. That is why we need independent media, we need to improve laws and stand by freedom of media, information and expression and it’s the only way to build a healthy society. – Yulia Molodanova, News reporter, Ukraine
The governmental pressure on the free media in Macedonia is increasing day by day. Mentioned in almost every Freedom House/Reporters without Borders’ report, the country continues to be a media “black hole” on the European continent. With EU and NATO candidate status since 2005, Macedonia did nothing to inspire and motivate free media development. On the contrary, it got much worse. When the self-censorship and the fear of repression of journalists ends, it will be counted as a large step towards free society and free media. Until then, the battle goes on. – Emil Lazarevski, Public Relations Executive, Macedonia
In Turkey we can see that freedom of press is partly free. As we say that in the partly means we have so many paper that can write independent stories. But of course the pressure from government is a big issue. To deal with this pressure there is a necessity of new press law. – Can Mumay, Journalist, Turkey
Journalism in Russia is not having the best time. Those in power try to keep everything under control. But in most cases journalists can write and make serious investigations. The problem is that despite exposing in articles corrupt officials seldom lead to resignations and courts. The prosecutor’s office, investigators and courts work in protection of officials. It seems that cases of corruption are opened only concerning those who are not part of the power. – Alexandra Cherdanceva, Journalist, Russia
Zimbabwe’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression and right to access information. However, there is an emergency to amend law to secure the environment for free media as we face physical threats of journalistssuch as the kidnapping of Itai Dzamara and a clearer understanding of media’s responsibility of professionalism. – Faith Ndlovu, Media programme officer, Zimbabwe.