World Press Freedom Day
The IFJ believes global battles for safety, decent work and quality journalism can only be won if journalists stand together in defence of their rights.
In a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day 2009, the IFJ said that governments guilty of “censorship, hypocrisy, and neglect” are putting press freedom to the sword world-wide.
“Governments around the world are failing to defend press freedom and the rights of journalists,” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President , “and in the process they endanger civil liberties and democracy.”
The IFJ says that, In the name of security and counter-terrorism, journalists have become the targets of police and state authorities.
“Even democratic states are putting in place laws that constrain the exercise of journalism,” says the IFJ President. “Snooping on investigative reporters and forcing journalists to reveal sources of information is increasing. As a result, media work in an intimidating atmosphere in which censorship, direct and indirect is becoming routine.”
The IFJ says that its decision not to attend press freedom celebrations this weekend organised by UNESCO with the Government of Qatar reflects this concern because the event is held in a country which supports an international media freedom centre, but which refuses to allow local journalists to form their own independent union or association.
Across the globe unions with membership of the IFJ, the world's largest journalists' group, are marking World Press Freedom Day with national and regional events as well as activities to highlight the crisis facing people working in journalism.
Around the world, IFJ members are staging events to mark world press freedom day, including the events listed below.
The IFJ is holding a press conference on 30 April at its headquarters in Brussels. The Federation will also launch on the same day its second report on the ' Breaking the chains' programme for the Arab World and Iran.
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) organised an event dubbed "Five Minutes of Loud Silence" and a massive protest on 3 May to mark Press Freedom Day.
This year's edition of "Five Minutes of Loud Silence" was held on Sunday under the slogan "For journalists' dignity, for dignified profession." A five-minute interruption of programmes was observed by electronic media across the country.
On 4 May, The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) organised a demonstration which started at the AJM premises and ended at the city central square "Makedonija".
The journalists presented a Declaration, which specified their demands to judicial authorities, political factors and media, owners, warning that the protest would turn more radical unless their demands are met.
“We have had it, honourable judges, with the slander and libel sentences that show no respect for legal procedures, and with the astronomically high fines imposed. In the past two years, over 160 lawsuits have been filed in the courts against journalists, on charges of slander and libel. Could you guess the total amount of fines sentenced against journalists? Over 250,000 EUR in compensations” “Not even the politically controlled courts in the past demonstrated more restraint,” said AJM Chairman Robert Popovski.
Journalists also sent a message to political factors who seek to control and manipulate journalists and media with some success, according to Macedonian journalists’ leaders.
With average monthly pay of approximately 250 Euro, journalists in Macedonia are way underpaid compared to their colleagues in the region. Media owners were urged to increase the salaries of journalists and to improve their working conditions.
More then 250 journalists were present at Skopje central square Makedonia, although some editorial offices are said to have piled pressure on their staff not to take part in the protest.
The IFJ Asia Pacific Office is publishing a major report on press freedom in South Asia.
IFJ affiliates in New Zealand are organising a debate on press freedom in the country.
A training programme for the Pacifi Region which was initially planned in Fiji will now take place in Samoa.
The Colombian Federation of Journalists, celebrating its second anniversary of trade union solidarity on 2 May , saluted the courage of journalists who, despite difficult work and safety conditions, remain committed to informing Colombians.
On the special occasion, FECOLPER called upon:
* Citizens - To understand that work and safety conditions of journalists have a direct impact on their right to be well informed.
* Media owners - To engage in dialogue about creative proposals to face the world economic crisis, while ensuring work stability for workers and sustainability of companies.
*The State - To respect and guarantee the constitutional rights to life, safety and work of journalists; to ensure efficient and rational investment of official publicity, currently the main obstacle to independent journalism; and to carry out real and efficient investigations of crimes and attacks against journalists with a view to putting an end to impunity.
*Violent individuals or groups - To recognize the neutral role of the journalistic work. Journalists are messengers to society. We are not actors in this armed conflict, we simply cover it.
FECOLPER pledged to work for the the improvement of journalists' lives and encouraged all media practitioners to become part of this national effort. "Only united will we be able to face the challenges of today," said FECOLPER.
The FECOLPER board announced the launch of the Solidarity Fund for Emergencies, to provide humanitarian aid for journalists in danger.
National unity for free, responsible and safe journalism.
The East African Journalists' Association is organising a regional conference in Kigali, Rwanda on 2 -3 May on media, dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation.