United States President, Barack Obama, has said history shows that a free press remains a critical foundation for prosperous, open, and secure societies, allowing citizens to access information and hold their governments accountable, NAN reports.
He said this in a statement issued by the White House in New York on Monday to mark the first-ever International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
“Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reiterates the fundamental principle that every person has the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media.”
Obama hailed journalists for taking extraordinary risks to publish stories that expose corruption.
He also said journalists had bore witness to the dignity of innocent men, women and children suffering the horrors of war.
He noted that in the service to humanity, hundreds of journalists had been killed in the past decade alone, while countless more had been harassed, threatened, imprisoned and tortured.
“In the overwhelming majority of these cases, the perpetrators of these crimes against journalists go unpunished,” he said.
Obama challenged all governments to protect the ability of journalists to write and speak freely, as well as ensure their societies enjoyed unfettered freedom of speech.
He commended the priceless contributions by journalists “to the freedom and security of us all, shining light into the darkness and for giving voice to the voiceless.
“We honor the sacrifices so many journalists have made in their quest for the truth, and demand accountability for those who have committed crimes against journalists,” he said.
In a related development, the Association of Cross River Online Journalists, ACROJ commended the American President for once again drawing the attention of repressive governments and officials to the critical role that a free Press plays in helping to develop democracy and creating prosperity for citizens.
In a statement in Calabar by the association, ACROJ called on repressive elements in the Cross State Government and security agencies who are yet to come to terms with the reality that a free press is budding in the ground to brace up for the scrutiny that must follow or quit the public space.
The statement reads in part: “We are aware of the cruelties that some members of our association have gone through in the hands of security agencies and intimidation from government officials who are yet to come to terms with the budding free press in our state.
“Such category of officials and security agents in the state detest our work. They consider us as interlopers who have no business digging after their heels. But Obama’s statement is indeed a welcome and timely intervention that will serve to remind them of the inevitability of the role of journalists in the development of democracy and creation of prosperity.”
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