William Horsley, Head of the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) Media Freedom Committee; London’s Message On World Press Freedom Day 2019

London: William horsley photo AThe theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is the role of media for democracy and elections. I applaud the Rural Media Network Pakistan for being at the forefront of providing professional training to journalists in rural parts of Pakistan, to equip them with the best skills and understanding to do excellent journalistic work even under difficult or dangerous conditions. All the states of the United Nations have committed themselves — in UN Resolutions and in their national laws — to promote and protect press freedom as an essential basis for democracy and good government. And all states have an obligation to ensure that their law-enforcement agencies and public officials of all kinds demonstrate respect to the role of free and independent media, because media workers represent the democratic rights of all the people, especially at times of elections and tension.
In reality, public officials sometimes misuse their authority to intimidate or muzzle journalists who report honestly and fairly on behalf of the whole community. So it is truly impressive that you, the participants in the training courses run by the RMNP under the guidance of its president Ehsan, are showing such dedication to the ideals of professional journalism. Those ideals are of integrity and truth-telling, good judgement and sensitivity. More than ever, international organisations are now realising the importance of journalism to the well-being of all societies. The Commonwealth is committed, as one of its ‘fundamental values’ to ensuring that independent and professional media are ‘protected by law in their freedom to report and comment on public affairs’. The Commonwealth Journalists Association and others are now pressing hard to make sure that the member states of the Commonwealth live up to that promise in reality, not only in words. And this year the British government has publicly declared a new policy, saying it will use its influence, with other democracies, to turn the tide again in favour of press freedom and the rule of law around the world.
All of you – like journalists everywhere – are linked together by a noble, common purpose: to inform the public without fear or favour. I wish you every success on this World Press Freedom Day.

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