Over 30 years ago, the international community came together to commemorate the first Press Freedom Day, as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993. It is a day to defend the essential role played by a free and pluralistic press in upholding the values of human rights and democracy. As we celebrate this occasion under this year’s theme “Information as a Public Good”, we recognise the informative power of media in shaping transparent political decisions and public debates that contribute to the common interests of all.
Freedom of press, like any other, requires constant protection. This need has become more relevant than ever with the emergence of a diverse mediascape across the world. The surge of disinformation and hate speech seen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic also calls for urgent re-evaluation of media corporations based on concrete codes of ethics. During this critical juncture, the international community must team up to stop disinformation and to ensure the credibility and accessibility of information disseminated by the media. Keeping press freedom alive is inherently linked to the collective empowerment of individuals across the globe and holds the potential to build a world that caters to a spectrum of needs, leaving no one behind.
The Maldives has achieved remarkable progress in promoting media freedom, under the administration of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Today, we stand at the 72nd place in the rankings of the World Press Freedom Index – a huge step forward from where we were three years ago. From repealing draconian laws, to cultivating an environment that allows journalists to thrive, the advocacy of the Government in re-enforcing the freedoms enshrined in the Maldivian constitution continues to grow stronger, without fail. We remain committed to counter any challenges that hinder safe journalism and to champion freedom of expression both at home and abroad.
Together, let us protect media professionals and raise awareness on the importance of a free press as a means of peace, justice and human rights for all.