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May 3 is World Press Freedom Day

Melina Joseph, Contributing Writer

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May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day, raising awareness of the importance of journalism and a free press.

May 3rd commemorates the Windhoek Declaration, a statement on the principles of press freedoms by African newspaper journalists in 1991. Shared at a seminar hosted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Declaration was subsequently adopted by the UNESCO General Conference.

“On World Press Freedom Day, I call for an end to all crackdowns against journalists – because a free press advances peace and justice for all,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

The theme of UNESCO’s main celebration of this year’s day is ‘Critical Minds for Critical Times: The media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies.’

It is also the twentieth anniversary of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, an award named in honor of Colombian journalist Guillermo Cano Isaza, who was murdered in front of his newspaper’s offices in 1986.

Dawit Isaak, an imprisoned Eritrean-Swedish journalist, has been chosen to receive this year’s prize. Arrested under September 2001’s crackdown on Eritrea’s independent press, he has spent his years in prison without charge or trial.

“I sincerely hope that with this award the world will say, ‘Free Dawit Isaak Now,’” said Cilla Benkö, the President of the prize’s 2017 jury.

Al Jazeera reported that 56 journalists have been killed for their work since January 1st of last year.

The American Civil Liberties Union weighed in on Twitter. “On #WorldPressFreedomDay, we remember the press was to serve the governed, not the governors.”

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May 3 is World Press Freedom Day