May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day, a day to celebrate press freedom, evaluate the current worldwide situation and pay a tribute to the journalists and reporters who have lost their lives carrying out their profession.
Since its proclamation by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1993, each year UNESCO holds a conference to celebrate the day and to reflect upon the status of press freedom as well as the crackdowns against journalists worldwide. “A free press advances peace and justice for all”, declared UN Secretary General António Guterres to mark World Press Freedom Day 2017.
The 2017 World Press Freedom Index was released last week by Reporters Without Borders and paints a rather bleak picture: arrests, detention, harassment and disappearances of journalists are on the rise and more countries than ever are slipping into the ‘red area’, one step shorter of being put on the blacklist for press freedom. Long-standing dictatorships and wars are to blame, but even countries at peace are slipping down a treacherous path, with Turkey being the most alarming case.
Amnesty International is running a campaign with the hashtag #FreeTurkeyMedia to highlight the 120 journalists who have been jailed in Turkey and the much wider repression of free media which has taken place since the failed coup in 2016. The organisation released today a report entitled Journalism is not a crime, underlining how Turkey is currently the biggest jailer of journalists: one third of all detained journalists worldwide are in Turkey.