The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, David Kaye, and rights experts from around the world have joined forces to highlight growing threats to media independence and diversity worldwide, particularly those affecting digital outlets.
In a joint declaration to mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, they emphasise the essential role of independent media in democratic societies, and express grave concern about physical attacks on journalists, as well as surveillance, marginalization and squeezing out of independent outlets around the world.
Mr. Kaye welcomed the declaration saying: "Free and independent media facilitate democratic institutions and accountability, while attacks on journalists and journalism undermine the very idea of public participation and governmental accountability."
"Attacks on journalists are deplorable and State authorities must do more to prevent them. These attacks stem in part from increasingly irresponsible framing of journalists as 'enemies' by political and business leaders, but are also aimed at deterring investigative reporting in the public interest. All those committed to independent and diverse media must join together now to stop such attacks," the Special Rapporteur stressed.
"In addition to physical attacks, those acting on behalf of the State threaten journalism on political, legal and technological fronts. They abuse public resources by placing advertisements only with friendly outlets, assert financial or other forms of control, and promote or permit media concentrations," Mr. Kaye added.
The Joint Declaration on Media Independence and Diversity in the Digital Age has been issued by Mr. Kaye and counterparts from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.
It also urges governments to promote media independence and diversity, emphasizes fundamental norms of human rights law and urges States to meet their obligations, and calls on others, such as the media and private internet companies, to take steps to ensure that independent media can continue to play a central role in democratic societies.