Jakarta Declaration highlights challenges posed to press freedom globally

Jakarta Declaration highlights challenges posed to press freedom globally

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at the opening ceremony of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2017 in Jakarta Convention Center, Wednesday (May 3rd, 2017). (ANTARA/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

We meet today in Jakarta to celebrate a freedom at the heart of all freedoms."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Some 1,500 participants from 90 countries attended the World Press Freedom Day International Conference organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Jakarta from May 1 to 4, where they adopted the Jakarta Declaration, after examining the challenges facing media around the world during the meeting.

The Jakarta Declaration basically warned of three major challenges to press freedom, notably safety of journalists, false news and freedom of speech on the Internet.

In the 74-point Declaration, participants, comprising of journalists, editors, experts, government officials, press freedom advocates and academics, welcomed multi-stakeholder efforts made by the international community to enhance the protection of journalists and address the issue of impunity through the implementation of the U.N. Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

They recognized that the internet is a powerful medium for self-expression, which facilitates the ability of users to speak freely and in public interest.

Therefore, they honored the journalists and media workers, who contribute to press freedom through their work and commitment, often at the risk of their safety and personal security.

They also observed that the proliferation of falsified information and the phenomenon of "social-media bubbles" can polarize public debate, mislead whole segments of society and undermine professional journalism.

The participants also noted with concern the increasing tendency to demand internet shutdowns that undermine citizen trust, the right to freedom of expression, including press freedom, and the right to access information.

They also observed with concern the global trend to disproportionately limit freedom of expression in the name of national security and the fight against terrorism, as well as through the disproportionate use of legislation and state security apparatus.

The participants called on journalists, media outlets, social media practitioners and internet intermediaries to ensure that reporting is based on verifiable information, and by promoting media and information literacy initiatives, to counter the proliferation of falsified news.

Besides, they advocated for internet policies to be based on human rights, openness, accessibility and multi-stakeholder participation.

Organized in partnership with the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesian Press Council, the UNESCO conference focused on the theme Critical Minds for Critical Times: Medias role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

The conference addressed a wide range of issues, such as fake news, safety of journalists, gender equality and countering violent extremism.

One plenary session highlighted the contribution of journalism to sustainable development and the role of journalists as the guardians of democracy.

The UNESCO flagship event was aimed at raising awareness about the importance of free and fact-based journalism in promoting peace and justice and supporting the efficiency, accountability and inclusiveness of institutions, in line with the 16th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal.

"We meet today in Jakarta to celebrate a freedom at the heart of all freedoms," UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said at the opening ceremony, which was also attended by Jose Ramos-Horta, former President of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Richard Gingras, Vice President of News at Google, who spoke of the need to build trust in the open web through news.

Indonesias Vice President Mohammad Jusuf Kalla in his opening remarks encouraged the media to contribute to fostering peace and development, reflect peoples views, and remain critical of governments to ensure good governance.

Speaking during the May 3 celebration, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) underlined the vital importance of "political freedom, including freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

Despite serious threats and challenges facing press freedom today, the Head of State stressed his confidence in the possibility of tackling them.

"We will overcome, we have done it before and we shall do it again," he stated.

Approximately 80 other Press Freedom events have been organized around the world this year while leading news organizations hosted dedicated blogs and featured special content for World Press Freedom Day.

May 3 acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.

The international day was proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCOs General Conference in 1991.

This in turn was a response to a call by African journalists, who in 1991, produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.
(T.F001/INE/KR-BSR/B003)

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