Ban urges support for press freedoms, protection of journalists' legal rights

7 May 2009

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Member States to uphold press freedoms and support the work of independent media.

Speaking at a United Nations Headquarters event in observance of World Press Freedom Day, marked annually on 3 May, Mr. Ban said a free press contributed to democracy and stability.

“At a time of economic crisis and other serious threats, it is crucial to support a free and independent media so that people can better understand the events that shape their lives,” Mr. Ban said.

Noting that 11 journalists have been killed this year and 125 are imprisoned, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Mr. Ban urged governments to respect the legal rights of those detained.

“Journalists should be able to do their job free of intimidation and harassment. They should not have to self-censor themselves out of fear,” Mr. Ban.

Also today, General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto, in a message delivered by Deputy Chef de Cabinet Sofia Clark, called for the defence of press freedoms, saying it served as “the bedrock of modern societies and the life-blood for informed decision-making.”

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has led a chorus of United Nations officials in paying tribute to all those who work in difficult conditions to ensure the rest of the world can have access to free and unbiased information, and in stressing the need to protect their freedom and safety.