President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo has made a passionate call on World Leaders to make a conscious effort to end all forms of State sponsored attacks on Journalists in their bid to do their work.
Delivering the Special Guest of Honour’s address at the UNESCO/ Guillermo Cano Prize Ceremony and Gala Dinner of the “World Press Freedom Day 2018”, held at the Kempinski Gold Coast City Hotel, President Akufo Addo condemned all forms of attacks on Journalists while in their line of duty. The President observed that any forms of violence against journalists cannot and should not be countenanced on the African continent and for that matter the rest of the World.
“I use this opportunity to call on all governments the world over to put an end to State sponsored acts that seek to restrict the practice of Journalism. When supported, the free press has the potential to quicken the development of society. Indeed, democracy has no place for a media that does not keep a government on its toes,” the President said.
The President in his speech identified some emerging challenges to press freedom especially in this era of social media. He limited himself to two of these challenges namely, “the risk of deliberate misinformation campaigns by some elements in the Democratic space and the risk of inadvertent misinformation by media practitioners often in their desire to be first with the news”. He called on the participants in their deliberations to discuss these challenges and find ways to guard against the threats posed by these emerging problems.
The Egyptian Photojournalist
On the Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, who has been in jail in Egypt for nearly five years, President Akufo Addo said the world has not forgotten him. He urged all individuals and institutions fighting for his release not to loose hope in their fight.
The Laureate of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Prize
Mahmoud Abu Zeid, who was selected by an independent international jury of media professionals as the laureate of the 2018 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize received his award in abstention.
Shawkan, a photo Journalist, has been in jail since 14th August 2013 when he was arrested while covering a demonstration at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square in Cairo. In early 2017, the prosecutor in his case reportedly called for the death penalty. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions has qualified his arrest and detention as arbitrary and contrary to the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Laureate of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Prize received $25,000. The Prize is funded by the Guillermo Cano Isaza Foundation,Colombia,the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, Finland and The Namibia Media Trust.
World Press Freedom Day 2018
This year 2018, UNESCO is leading the 25th celebration of World Press Freedom Day. The main event, jointly organized by UNESCO and the Government of the Republic of Ghana, is taking place in Accra, Ghana from today 2nd to 3rd May. This year’s global theme is ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’. The issues of media and the transparency of the political process, the independence and media literacy of the judicial system, and the accountability of state institutions towards the public are the main focus of the celebration. The Day will also examine contemporary challenges of ensuring press freedom online.