The UN says freedom of expression is being threatened across the globe

Protestors hold banners in support of journalists and free speech in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021.
Protestors hold banners in support of journalists and free speech in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Copyright Manish Swarup/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Manish Swarup/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews
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The UN says freedom of expression is under threat around the world with journalists being murdered and facing threats, intimidation and violence for trying to report the truth.


The organisation says the job of free and open media is to speak 'truth to power' but such principled goals are dangerous even in modern times and even in so-called democracies. 

Arman Soldin, Shireen Abu Akleh, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Anna Politovskaja, Jamal Khashoggi, and Jan Kuciak might not be household names but they are names that many will have heard of. 

They were all murdered for being inconvenient. AFP's Ukraine video coordinator, Arman Soldin, was killed just ten days before this article (May 9) by rocket fire near Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine close to the now infamous city of Bakhmut.

Even in war zones, the press is expected to be afforded some protection but it doesn't always work out that way. 

And it doesn't mean reporting is safe in peacetime either. Daphne Caruana Galizia was a journalist on the Mediterranean island of Malta in the heart of Europe. That didn't prevent her from being murdered in 2017 over her exposure of political corruption. 

It was the following year that Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak was murdered for similar investigative reporting in Slovakia. He was just 27 years old. 

That same year Saudi journalist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was horrifically murdered and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Murder, threats, violence, and intimidation are impinging on the work of the free press. 

In fact, freedom of expression is being undermined across the world. At least that is the view of Guilherme Canela De Souza Godoi, Chief Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists Section, UNESCO: "The situation is bad everywhere because the new types of crimes, particularly digital crimes, they are not circumscribed to a particular region or a particular country. We found that 85%, of the world's population has experienced the downsising of their freedom of expression in the last five years."

According to the latest UNESCO report on the safety of journalists and the danger of impunity, in 2021 , 36% of journalists killed lost their lives in war zones, the remaining 64% in other regions or countries that were not supposed to be as dangerous.

Mexico, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia are known to be inhospitable countries for the press but even in Europe, there are threats. Of course, there's always been the Mafia, but there are other players too. 

"We can see that the Balkans are knocking at the door of the European Union with a situation that is disastrous for press freedom," explained Pauline Adès-Mével of the organisation Reporters Without Borders. "Russian disinformation is filling Serbia. These countries, which may be part of (EU) enlargement, must not harbour disinformation laboratories, nor protect mafia groups or criminal groups that attack journalists."

On World Press Freedom Day (May 3, 2023), the Council of Europe urged governments to make the protection of journalism a political priority - to protect the most valuable asset, where it exists: democracy.

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