President Ali reaffirms government’s commitment to respecting press freedom
Message of His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, for World Press Freedom Day, 3rd May 2023.
Press freedom is an enabler of human right
I join with the international community in observing World Press Freedom Day 2023.
Special significance is attached to this year’s World Press Freedom Day. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the proclamation, by the United Nations General Assembly, of World Press Freedom Day. Later this year, the international community will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 19 of the ‘Declaration’ 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.
This right is the foundation of press freedom since the media exercises and facilitates the right of persons to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. Freedom of expression includes freedom of the press and is enshrined in Guyana’s Constitution.
As the theme of this year’s observance underscores, freedom of the press is an enabler of other human rights. The press has been and must continue to be a staunch defender of the right to life and liberty. The press acts as a watchdog against violations of freedom of conscience and the right to assembly, association and demonstration. A free press is therefore indispensable to protecting the human rights of citizens, including and especially the right to freedom of expression.
On World Press Freedom Day, I wish to reaffirm my government’s and country’s commitment to respecting press freedom. I take this opportunity also to iterate my condemnation of any attempt to intimidate or attack members of the media. Such repressible conduct has no place in a democratic society and is to be denounced in the strongest manner.
The media has the capacity to exert considerable influence in society. Technologies of mass communication, including social media, now allow for vast numbers of persons to be reached. The media is now a medium of empowerment.
The media’s reach and influence, however, must be tempered by a responsibility to provide truthful, accurate and complete information and to avoid the sins of misinformation, falsehoods, distortion and manipulation.
Respect for human rights is predicated on respecting human dignity. A free press therefore upholds and enables human rights to the extent that it defends and promotes human dignity.
In the exercise of its core functions of education, enlightenment and entertainment, the media must demonstrate its commitment to human dignity by foremost upholding the truth and avoiding malicious actions aimed at bringing persons and entities into public disrepute. The use of the media as a weapon to disseminate hatred and division and to defame and distort, represents an affront to human dignity.
On this World Press Freedom Day 2023, I extend best wishes to the media practitioners and media houses. Happy World Press Freedom Day 2023!
Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali
President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana