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Celebrating World Press Freedom Day in Africa and Beyond

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Press Freedom can be defined as the right to report news or spread opinion without censorship from the government or any unlawful control from any institutions. Dating back to history, World Press Freedom Day was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1993 as an outgrowth of the Seminar on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press. The seminar that marked this epoch making incidence was held in Namibia in 1991 which led to the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Media.

World Press Freedom Day

The responsibility of the Windhoek Declaration is hinged to establish, maintain, and foster an independent, pluralistic, and free press. It is also saddled with the responsibility of showcasing the importance of a free press for developing and maintaining democracy in every nation, and for economic development. World Press Freedom Day is celebrated annually on May 3, the date on which the Windhoek Declaration was adopted.

As said, every 3rd of May is a date which specially celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom in the world, to defend and prevent the media from attacks on their independence and to also pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession as it is known there are quite a number of countries where press freedom is being violated.

Nations Violating the Tenets of Free Press

The countries where the unwholesome violation of the free press are ten nations – China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Eritrea, Djibouti, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and Cuba. In the dittoed countries, many publications and their editors and reporters are often prevented from doing their jobs, censored and banned. Many get imprisoned or killed even, or at worse get disappeared without any trace.

Press Freedom in Nigeria

Nigeria often described as the Giant Africa, was only described as “partly free” in the Freedom of the Press 2011 report published by the Freedom House. Also, the Reporter without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranked Nigeria 115 out of 180 countries surveys. Ever since, Nigeria has been enjoying a very high press freedom, only very few cases of its Freedom violation is found. The country has come to realize freedom of expression as a universal human right.

The protection of press freedom in Nigeria is constitutional. It is protected by section 39 (1) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria constitution. Like every other countries, World Press Freedom Day is celebrated in the country in every of 3rd May. Nigerians, especially those engaged in the use of the press, usually in celebrating the day. The day is celebrated to ensure the protection and safety of the press in the face of attacks against its independence, to discuss journalistic ethics and to celebrate journalists who gave their lives in the pursuit of truth.

Happy World Press Freedom Day!

From Nigeria Blog Series

Umar Muhammad

Umar Muhammad is a teacher in Nigeria and a published writer. His write-ups have been featured in Opinion Page, Blueprint Newspaper and many other sites. He is interested in politics, business and sports, and he hopes to find a home in calligraphy.