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World Press Freedom Day Conference in Addis Ababa

Video Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

1 May 2019

Freedom of the media is essential. Journalism enriches our understanding of political and economic issues and helps keep governance at every level transparent and accountable.

Unfortunately, attacks, threats, harassment and undue restrictions have become everyday events to journalists and media workers all over the world. Female reporters often suffer a disproportionate burden of verbal and physical assault. The situation is worsened by the fact that most attacks against journalists are not investigated nor prosecuted. Less than one in ten cases leads to a conviction.

Every attack against journalists is a blow to democracy and pluralism, public participation, andthe basic rights of all individuals. When press freedoms, and media workers, are attacked with impunity, a clear signal is sent: the search for truth, the right to information and the fundamental freedom to express oneself are not protected by the authorities.

Elections may be particularly vulnerable to deliberate disinformation campaigns. In recent years, we have seen cases of elections being subjected to manipulation, with lies and half-lies being spread, often using digital tools.

It is our shared responsibility to reverse these worrying trends. World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to commit to actions that can promote more journalism and more transparency for our societies. I am convinced we can make the digital landscape a space of freedom, truth and information. My Office will do everything we can to ensure that the women and men of the media are able to do their valuable work without attack.