World Press Freedom Day: Celebrating journalists' pursuit of the truth

"On World Press Freedom Day, we celebrate those workers who bring us the news, no matter the price. May we fight with them to defend their independence, protect the fundamental principles of press freedom and honour those who have lost lives in pursuit of the truth." — James Clancy, NUPGE National President


Ottawa (03 May 2016) — Every year, on May 3, we take time to recognize the hard and often dangerous work by journalists toi reveal the truth and support human rights around the world. In December 1993, the UN General Assembly proclaimed World Press Freedom Day. May 3 is the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Windhoek which "calls for free, independent, pluralistic media worldwide, characterizing free press as essential to democracy and as a fundamental human right."


Journalists worldwide risk their lives to bring us information


According to the UN, the "Windhoek Declaration was a call to arms to protect the fundamental principles of the freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:


Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


Journalists, especially those in war-torn countries, have the difficult job of reporting from the front-lines, often in the heart of the action. Reporters have now become a major target in many countries as terror groups and governments try to keep information away from the public. Intimidation, threats, kidnappings, torture are just a few of the conditions journalists face. 


Journalists risk their lives to help us understand what is happening beyond our borders. The public relies on this information to protect and enhance our democracy, our human rights and help us make informed decisions. 


The UN's theme for World Press Freedom Day 2016 is Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms — This Is Your Right!


The work of the media right here at home is as valuable to our democracy and freedom of speech as work overseas. 


"The enemies of the truth are not just those terrorist regimes across the ocean, they can be right here at home," says James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "The hositility the Harper government had toward the media is an example of information suppression. He froze out journalists so they couldn't do their jobs — the jobs we needed them to do to keep the government accountable for its decisions."


Delays and redacted text compromise our right to information in Canada


In September 2015, the Toronto Star reported that "in 2009-10, the federal government logged 35,154 new access requests. That number nearly doubled in five years, to 60,105 requests in 2013-14." Despite the increase, many believe the delays in responding to requests has more to do with departments bringing items to the Privy Council Officer for review. 


While the Harper government claimed it was transparent, The Star found that "Treasury Board data {showed] only 27 per cent of those requests were 'all disclosed' — uncensored — in 2013-14. A further 50 per cent were disclosed 'in part,'which includes everything to documents with one line censored and records almost entirely blacked out."


"On World Press Freedom Day, we celebrate those workers who bring us the news, no matter the price," said Clancy. "May we fight with them to defend their independence, protect the fundamental principles of press freedom and honour those who have lost lives in pursuit of the truth."


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Find out what you can do to support journalists 


World Press Freedom Day


NUPGE


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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