ERG Marks World Press Freedom Day
Equality Rights Group (ERG) is marking World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) on 3rd May, a statement has announced today: ‘In recognition of the vital work our media professionals carry out in favour of democracy. It’s 30 years since the Windhoek Declaration affirmed a set of principles necessary for the establishment of a free and independent press in any democracy such as ours. And in 1993 the UN proclaimed this important international day, was eventually incorporated into its Sustainable Development Goals under item 16, targeting the right of public access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms.
‘In June, the Freedom of Information Act comes into force in Gibraltar, and ERG welcomes this development as part of the on-going delivery of the UN’s goals in our country, whilst cautiously awaiting the announced publication of the scope for public access to information soon this month.
‘ERG is grateful for the many opportunities all local media and its professionals have provided for its voice to be heard over the past almost twenty-one years of activism in equality, human and civil rights for the community of Gibraltar. Because the many successes that have resulted along the way are also successes of communication through and with the media.
‘And in honour of this special day, and of the value of free, independent and open media and its professionals, we also believe a social dialogue on the structures and role of the press needs to open up; because no field has changed more in the past few decades than in the handling and distribution of information. A dialogue that no one should fear or feel threatened by because the future of news and media lies in the hands of us all since, as this year’s theme for WPFD states, ‘information is a public good’. Participating in a frank debate on this matter is to guarantee the engagement of the public, not its slow distancing. In short, we cannot avoid talk that is already going on in people’s minds, and on benches and tables everywhere the length and breadth of our country.
‘Amongst the most notable of the defining principles put forward by Windhoek for an independent features at the top of the Windhoek document: article two states clearly that an independent press means ‘a press independent from governmental, political or economic control or from control of materials and infrastructure essential for the production and dissemination of newspapers, magazines and periodicals.’
‘ERG aims to engage civil society in debate and discussions on the multiple points and issues surrounding this topic. Our plans include further, more detailed work at a campaign and documentary level to promote discussion within the established media itself, in addition to more widely accessible formats within social media in what is likely to be an investment in promoting the increasingly important role of local press and media in the future of our society,’ the statement concluded.