Today, Friday 3rd May is World Press Freedom Day. The EU pays tribute to journalists worldwide who dedicate their lives - sometimes at great personal cost - to reporting events or expressing views that many might prefer to silence.
Already in 2013, nineteen journalists have been killed, according to Reporters Without Borders (www.rst.org). There has also been 175 journalists imprisoned. Reports Without Borders also estimates that 9 netziens and citizen journalists have been killed while 156 have been imprisoned so far this year.
This is the 20th anniversary of World Press Freedom day. It was first officially proclaimed during the United Nations General Assembly in 1993. It was first officially proclaimed during the United Nations General Assembly in 1993. Ever since then, UNESCO as the UN agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression and its corollary, freedom of the press, has been promoting these fundamental rights in every region of the world.
In a declaration on behalf of the European Union, Catherine Ashton said:
"A free, independent and vibrant press is indispensable in any democratic society. The EU is determined to fight for press freedom worldwide and condemns the increasing level of intimidation, violence and censorship that journalists face in many countries. The EU calls on all governments to allow journalists to work in safety and security, and without the fear of censorship or prosecution."
The theme of this year's World Press Freedom Day is "Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in all Media". This year's theme aims to place particular focus on: the safety of journalists; combating impunity for crimes against freedom of expression, and securing a free and open Internet as the precondition for safety online.
The importance of freedom in the online world is directly addressed in High Representative Ashton's declaration:
"Freedom of expression must be defended both in the traditional media and on the Internet. The EU will continue to promote freedom of expression on-line and offline, not least as new information technologies can be key in promoting human rights and democracy".