Washington: Citing the examples of China and
Iran, US President Barack Obama said that dozens of countries
continue to stand in the way of free press.
Obama was speaking on the occasion of World Press Freedom
Day as he recognised the vital role being played by
journalists in strengthening democratic governance around the
Noting that governments have an obligation to protect
rights and freedoms, Obama said this year alone, at least 16
journalists have already been killed and more than 145 remain
imprisoned around the world, simply for daring to report the
This includes recent crackdowns on the independent press
in Bahrain, threats against and arrests of domestic and
foreign journalists in China, political persecution of
independent journalists and bloggers in Iran, arrests and
detention of international journalists in Syria, and the
government takeover of independent media outlets in Venezuela,
Countries such as Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Eritrea, Libya,
North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan also continue to be
notoriously repressive of press freedoms.
Freedom of expression is also under attack through
criminal violence and impunity in countries like Mexico,
Honduras, and Russia, Obama said.
On this World Press Freedom Day, the US joins with people
around the world in reaffirming the fundamental freedoms of
expression, assembly, and association that provide the
foundation for media to operate freely and keep citizens
informed, he said.
"We rededicate ourselves to the basic principle enshrined
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that every person
has the right to seek, receive, and impart information and
ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
"We recognise the courageous journalists who work every
day to give meaning to these rights, often at great risk to
their lives, as we have seen most recently with the tragic
deaths of journalists in Libya," Obama said.
"As we witnessed in the historic events in Tunisia and
Egypt, new media tools can also help empower citizens exercise
their freedoms of speech and association, yet these same 21st
century tools can be used to filter, block, and restrict free
"That is why we must always stand up for the free flow of
information around the world," he said.
"History shows that one of the ingredients of successful,
prosperous, and stable societies is a free press where
citizens can freely access information and hold their
governments accountable,” said the US President.