Minister of Law and UN Resident Coordinator participate in roundtable on World Press Freedom Day
03 May 2023
Minister of Law and UN Resident Coordinator discuss media freedom at the event jointly organised by UNESCO, Transparency International Bangladesh and ARTICLE 19 South Asia
2023 marks the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day. On this day all United Nations member states mark the importance of media freedom and honor journalists who foster dialogue and accountability, empowering people with information. Whatever the context or issues of the day, whether it is climate change, increasing food prices, or the upcoming elections, reliable information and journalism are essential in building resilient, informed societies.
To mark the anniversary, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and Transparency International in Bangladesh organised a roundtable titled "Shaping a Future of Rights” to discuss issues journalism is facing in the country and in the world.
Over a dozen of guests including journalists, independent experts, the Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Anisul Huq, the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Gwyn Lewis, the Chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Dr. Kamal Uddin Ahmed, and the Ambassador of Sweden in Bangladesh, Alexandra Berg von Linde, Professor Dr. Gitiara Nasreen, Executive Editor
Executive Editor of Dhaka Tribune Mr. Reaz Ahmad and Barrister Joytirmoy Barua took part in the event held with the support of Transparency International Bangladesh and human rights organisation Article 19.
During the roundtable discussion, the Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Anisul Huq, spoke about Bangladesh’s vision for media freedom and answered a series of questions on the country’s Digital Security Act (DSA).
Addressing participants of the event, the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Gwyn Lewis, said that "by supporting freedom of the press, we provide ourselves with a powerful development tool." She later added: "Journalism is a public good that must be protected. In celebrating World Press Freedom Day, I thank all journalists in the country who continue to inform people by bringing the truth to light."
UNESCO Dhaka Officer-in-charge Dr Susan Vize commented saying that hosting this event was important for UNESCOs work in Bangladesh: "UNESCO works to promote freedom of expression, a key component of which is press freedom and safety. Today's panel highlights the critical role of press freedom in the achievement of sustainable development and fulfillment of human rights."
The discussion was moderated by Mr. Iftekharuzzaman, the Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.
After 30 years, the historic connection made between the freedom to seek, impart and receive information and the public good remains as relevant as it was at the time of its signing. Special commemorations of the 30th anniversary are planned to take place during World Press Freedom Day International Conference.
3 May acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. It is an opportunity to:
- celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
- assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
- defend the media from attacks on their independence;
- and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
This anniversary coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Conference and its Declaration and Programme of Action on Human Rights, which established important institutions safeguarding human rights, and with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.