S Asian countries urged to ensure freedom of media
LAHORE: South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) and South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) on Wednesday urged the governments in South Asia to ensure freedom of expression and media in their respective countries.
In a joint statement issued ahead of World Press Freedom Day (today) with its theme ‘New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies’, the regional media bodies called the commemoration an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of media freedom and to evaluate media freedom and pay tribute to journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty.
“Freedom of expression is a precious right that bolsters every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity. Free, pluralistic and independent media is essential for exercising this right,” said SAFMA Secretary-General Imtiaz Alam and SAMC President Kumar Ketkar.
“The governments in the region should commit themselves to supporting and expanding freedom of press and the free flow of information in this digital age,” they said. “New media have enabled people to bring about massive social and political transformations. Yet, media freedom is fragile, and it is also not yet within the reach of everyone. Furthermore, as more reporting is transmitted online, more and more online journalists including bloggers are being harnessed, attacked and even killed for their work,” they also said.
In South Asia, 185 journalists have been killed since 1992 for their work. Pakistan tops the tally with 58; followed by India 39; Afghanistan 28; Sri Lanka 25; Bangladesh 18; and Nepal 17.
“Violence and censorship against journalists are a threat to democracy and limit their ability to work freely. Press freedom and freedom of speech must be protected and promoted,” they said further.