Today, as we celebrate World Press Freedom Day and remember all those who have and continue to honor this most precious freedom, special mention must be made of those who have risked their lives in its defense. Journalists and media professionals have a vital role in a free society, exposing corruption, the abuse of power, radicalization, terror, criminal activity but also encouraging and nurturing progress, development and achievement in their communities, cities and countries. In all cases, however,they must be able to work in a safe and independent environment.
Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House have both revealed in their latest reports that press freedoms are backtracking and that control over newsrooms by governments has increased during 2015. Our efforts should point towards avoiding this route. Governments and political leaders must advance in the protection and promotion of this basic human right and work hand in hand with a pluralistic and independent press for the betterment of their citizens. There is no better way to counterbalance harmful messages than empowering and protecting independent media
In a world where conflict and radicalization are more present than ever, governments must support an independent media and counter ongoing impunity against media workers. Journalism –and journalists- have a key role in countries advancing towards a stable, inclusive democracy, much as they do in conflict prevention. Their role as informers cannot be overlooked or forgotten, because a well-informed society is, by definition, a freer society.
World Press Freedom day is a celebration but it is also a reminder that freedom of speech is not just about media and journalists, but about every citizen. Well informed citizens, able and willing to participate in the political process are critical to building and sustaining democracies that deliver, the aim Club de Madrid is fully committed to achieve.