Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - African Union (AU) Commission Chair Jean Ping Thursday saluted journalists for their courage, on the occasion of the ‘World Press Freedom Day’ which is observed annually 3 May.
An AU statement obtained by PANA in Dakar, Senegal, quoted Mr. Ping as saying the day “is also an opportunity for us to condemn, in the strongest terms, attacks and unacceptable treatment practiced here and there on journalists just because they have attempted to do their work well.
“This commemoration gives us an opportunity to honor all those who have lost their lives in carrying out their mission.”
According to him, freedom of speech that was suppressed for too long made way for the freedom of the press “that we are celebrating today.”
“In this context, I can only fully embrace the theme that was chosen by the United Nations for this year’s celebration: New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies,” he added.
The AU chief assured that his organization would spare no effort to help strengthen the security and protection of journalists along with freedom of expression, which are “nurseries of freedom of the press.”
“We will also continue efforts, in cooperation with Member States, to adapt to the new realities and needs of the populations, in monitoring the laws enforced in the states, on access to information and freedom of expression,” Mr. Ping said.
He said with new technologies such as social media, people - particularly the youth - were rising to protest against all forms of injustice imposed on them, and especially against infringements on the freedom of expression and human rights.
“For it is above all by words and messages that human beings exist. To deny this right is simply to suppress the whole concept of democracy,” Mr. Ping said. “In deed, popular uprisings have introduced a new dimension in relations as well as in communication between the government and the governed.”
To buttress this point, he cited demonstrations that occurred last year in several African countries, mostly in North Africa, and the more recent mobilization of the Senegalese people during the February and March presidential election as examples.
“All those who believed that their societies could evolve and develop without freedom of speech learned, at their own expense, that progress must follow the path of freedom and the respect of human rights, otherwise their citizens might turn against them,” he said.
-0- PANA MLJ/SEG 3May2012