NEW DELHI: On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on Monday (May 3, 2021), the US released a statement on Sunday and condemned the use of partial or complete government-imposed Internet shutdowns, among other tactics, to prevent the exercise of freedom of expression online and restrict the ability of independent journalists to serve the public.
The US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken said that on May 3, the US joins the international community in celebrating World Press Freedom Day.
He added that “Information and knowledge are powerful tools, and a free and independent press is the core institution connecting publics to the information they need to advocate for themselves, make informed decisions, and hold government officials accountable. ”
Freedom of Expression & Access to Information Fundamental to Democratic Societies
Freedom of expression and access to factual and accurate information provided by independent media is foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies. Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression includes the right of all individuals “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” But the outlook for the rights of journalists today is harrowing, said Blinken.
Khashoggi Ban- a Deterrent against Brute Power
Blinken further said, “that’s one reason we announced, in response to the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the “Khashoggi Ban” — to help deter threatening behaviour against the media.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that in 2020, the number of journalists killed in retaliation for their reporting more than doubled, with Mexico and Afghanistan seeing the largest number of killings.
According to CPJ, the number of journalists jailed for their reporting in 2020 reached the highest level since the organization began keeping track, with the People’s Republic of China, Turkey, and Egypt imprisoning the most reporters last year. In Russia, authorities continue to restrict independent reporting, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
US Condemns use of Internet Shutdowns to Stifle Journalists
The United States condemns the use of partial or complete government-imposed Internet shutdowns, among other tactics, to prevent the exercise of freedom of expression online and restrict the ability of independent journalists to serve the public.
“We urge governments to investigate and seek accountability for all crimes against journalists and media workers,” added Blinken.