Already this year 12 journalists have been killed while doing their work and another 161 imprisoned worldwide according to "Reporters without Borders". The latest is French journalist Romeo Langlois who is believed to be held by the FARC movement in Colombia.
Since its inception in 1993 by the United Nations, 3rd May has been marked as World Press Freedom Day which is used to draw attention of cases of persecution across the world.
"Everyone’s right to hold opinions"
Speaking on behalf of the 27 countries of the European Union, Catherine Ashton said that “freedom of expression as enshrined in the Universal declaration of Human rights entails everyone’s right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".
She condemned the conditions that many journalists work under saying that "censorship and harassment of editors, writers, journalists or bloggers are unacceptable, as are the use of violence and state induced arrests inflicted upon them."
On behalf of the European Union Mrs Ashton also paid tribute to "the courageous work of journalists who, in often highly precarious conditions, continue to provide independent information."
Freedom on the internet also vital
In a sign of the importance of the internet, bloggers and social media the declaration also clear says that "freedom of expression also extends to the internet and other media, and the EU is firmly opposed to any unjustified, disproportional restrictions of access to or use of these media.”
According to the Word Press Freedom Index, the countries that did the worst in respecting the freedom of the press were Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria, Iran and China. Countries that did the best were Finland, Norway, Estonia, Netherlands and Austria – all bar Norway are European Union members.