World Press Freedom Day, which is celebrated every year on May 4, 2021 the Ethiopian Media Council organized with other stakeholders at the Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa. Speaking on the occasion Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of UNESCO’s Office of Communications at ECA and the African Union said, “As we mark World Press Freedom Day, I call on everyone to renew their commitment to the fundamental right to freedom of expression, to defend media workers, and to join us in ensuring that information remains a public good. ”
The full text of her speech is here;
Director for UNESCO Liaison Office to ECA and AU and Representative to Ethiopia on the occasion of the celebration of the World Press Freedom Day 2021 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
H.E. Mr. Tagesse Chaffo, House Speaker, FDRE House of Peoples Representatives
Mr. Mohamed Edris Mohamed, General Director, Ethiopian Mass Media Authority
Mrs. Tiguest Yilma- Chairperson of the General Assembly, Ethiopian Media Council
Media representatives here and online
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning and a very happy World Press Freedom Day to us all!
Allow me to start by appreciating the organizers of this very important event – The Ethiopian Media Council, Ethiopian Mass Media Authority and UNESCO.
I also do appreciate our media development partners who have joined efforts with the organizers, in support of organizing this event including the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, International Media Support (IMS-Fojo), Addis Ababa University (AAU), Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), Ethiopian Mass Media Professionals Association (EMMPA).
I am happy that the key stakeholders of the media are here gathered today to commemorate the world press freedom day in Ethiopia. As you know, UNESCO chose Ethiopian two years ago to host the global conference in Addis Ababa in partnership with the African Union (AU) and UNESCO.
Back then, the Government of Ethiopia took a number of measures that aimed at enhancing freedom of expression and media freedom in Ethiopia including releasing of journalists from prison and unblocking of websites and social media.
The government also initiated a wide range of reforms including the legal reforms on media laws and a new media law is adopted this year.
UNESCO appreciates Ethiopia’s efforts in this regard and wishes to affirm our support for the ongoing reforms including revising the Access to Information and Computer Crime legislations.
As a result, in 2019 and 2020, Ethiopia showed significant progress in freedom of expression on the Reporters Without Borders global press freedom index, improving 51 steps in just two years. Ethiopia also left the coloured red on the Index map for the first time since the five colours began being used in 2013.
However, this year, Ethiopia dropped two points down and it is essential that all media partners: media development partners, government and national media stakeholders to do all possible in ensuring Ethiopia’s press index does not drop further.
UNESCO would launch next month the Ethiopia Media Development Assessment using the UNESCO media development indicates that would provide analysis of the media landscape in Ethiopia, highlight key developments and provide recommendations in areas that need further work. Related to this is also that we have initiated the Internet Development Assessment for Ethiopia in partnership with the Technology and Innovation Institute of Ethiopia this year.
Dear Partners, and distinguished participants,
“The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, is “Information as a Public Good” and serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good.
It calls for urgent attention to the threat of extinction faced by local news media around the world. This is a contemporary challenge by media all over the world and Ethiopia is no exception.
Disinformation, misinformation and hate speech have brought tremendous challenges to Ethiopia amid the ongoing transformation. Verified information as provided by the news media remains as essential as ever in the fight against disinformation and hate speech.
Journalism remains a key component in this fight and that is why we celebrate journalism today as a profession and the journalists who bring life-saving information to us.
At this juncture, allow me to bring to you the Message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 3 May 2021
Thirty years ago today, journalists, editors and publishers from across Africa gathered to draft a call for press freedom, the “Declaration of Windhoek on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press”.
This landmark Declaration aimed to make the free flow of information a public good – a goal which still resonates today.
Since 1991, the information landscape has undergone tremendous changes, especially with the advent of the Internet and social media. We now have incredible opportunities to express ourselves, stay informed and connect with others.
But we are also facing a rise in misinformation and hate speech, the upending of media business models and the concentration of power in the hands of just a few private companies.
The pandemic has underlined the need for reliable information. It is independent journalism that has helped us make sense of this crisis.
Journalists have reported from the field, even at great personal risk. Many have been threatened, detained, harassed – especially women.
Sixty-two journalists were killed for their work in 2020, and many more lost their lives to COVID-19. We owe them a debt of gratitude.
The pandemic has also exacerbated existing challenges, with numerous media now facing financial losses.
The power of Internet platforms has been further entrenched, with lockdowns forcing much of daily life online.
And false information and rumours have flourished, in some cases with fatal consequences.
The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, “Information as a Public Good”, underlines the indisputable importance of verified and reliable information.
It calls attention to the essential role of free and professional journalists in producing and disseminating this information, by tackling misinformation and other harmful content.
This theme ties in with UNESCO’s efforts to ensure the long-term health of independent, pluralistic journalism, and the safety of media workers everywhere, including through the UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
As part of these efforts, we are working to create more transparency on online platforms in areas such as content moderation, while respecting human rights and international freedom of expression rules.
We are equipping citizens with the Media and Information Literacy skills they need to navigate this new information landscape, so they can avoid being duped or manipulated online.
Today, we are also working to ensure that this changing landscape is reflected in the principles enshrined in the Windhoek Declaration, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of this essential text at the World Press Freedom Conference being held in Windhoek, Namibia, on 2 and 3 May.
As we mark World Press Freedom Day, I call on everyone to renew their commitment to the fundamental right to freedom of expression, to defend media workers, and to join us in ensuring that information remains a public good.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Again, I wish you very happy World Press Freedom Day and that you will find many reasons to celebrate this important Day UNESCO has set aside to recognise the media fraternity.
I thank you!