Dear Communication Professionals, we are celebrating Press Freedom Day in a very complex context, never seen in the history of mankind. The context we live in requires of everyone to be responsible, reflective, sensitive, empathic and supportive.
It is in a difficult and complex context that key stakeholders in society are hereby called upon to take the lead in the process and to be in the front lines to provide the necessary response to the problem.
We the Social Communication Professionals are at the forefront, working to prevent the Covid-19 from getting a stronghold in our country, an act of courage and a display of social responsibility, which has won my admiration as a representative of the group. I take this opportunity to congratulate all Social Communication professionals who are working in difficult conditions, even though they know the serious risks they run.
A free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights; no democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information.
The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is ‘journalism without fear or favour’, a theme that reflects the mentality of various political, business and social actors in Guinean society.
This is the time to live without fear, just work with rigour and responsibility; ethical and deontological principles forbid us from transform journalistic activity into an action to exchange favours, or to provide services to win favours. When we think and act in breach of these principles, we are compromising freedom of expression and the press.
In effect, SINJOTECS calls on the Government to ensure that media professionals can do their job without fear, bearing in mind that journalism expands the public’s right to know and the public’s right to responsible governance. “
A free press gives people access to information of all kinds, and this is especially critical during a crisis, whatever its nature, political, economic, environmental or health, which characterise the difficult times we are currently experiencing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic .
In recent months, independent journalism has been an essential lever for public information, uncovering stories of governments’ disappointment and helping people around the world to understand the nature and scope of the public health crisis we are all facing.
We associate ourselves with the concerns raised by international organizations, such as the International Federation of Journalists, Reporter Without Borders and all other organizations that are working for the protection and promotion of press freedom around the world.
Hundreds of journalists are known to have been arrested for their work. The Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that 250 journalists are in prison. The organization Reporters Without Borders drew UN attention to a ‘wave of press freedom violations’.
The criminalization of journalism must end. This can begin with the urgent release of journalists.
“Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year, I have received alarming reports of official retaliation against journalists, on the pretext of spreading misinformation. In my recently published report to the UN Human Rights Council, I emphasized the way in which governments attack the messenger and limit reporting, rather than acting responsibly on the information released,” the words of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, David Kaye.
In the past two years journalistic activity in Guinea-Bissau has been marked by incidents that plague Press Freedom; verbal attacks, insults on social media, intimidation and physical aggression. These factors are associated with the poor financial conditions of the Media, which has rendered journalists dependent on political and business power.
To overcome this challenge, the State must create conditions to build a true business model for the Social Communication sector and include in the general state budget the public service financing plan promoted by the Media.