On World Press Freedom Day, Skyline calls for protection of journalists' rights and an end to increasing abuses.
Skyline states that it is time for the international community and all specialized committees to assume their legal and moral responsibility for the ongoing and persistent violations against journalists and media professionals, especially in conflict zones. It also stresses that this year's World Press Freedom Day coincides with a series of challenges and restrictions for journalists, especially in conflict zones.
In a statement released today (Wednesday) in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, Skyline says the May 3, 2023 celebration is an important opportunity to look back on the achievements and learn from the mistakes made during three decades of efforts to promote press freedom and defend freedom of expression. World Press Freedom Day was established in 1993 to promote freedom of expression worldwide and to put an end to prejudice, institutional racism and impunity.
Skyline points out that this event is taking place at a time when freedom of the press is being violated in many ways. It stresses that the figures documented by it and by all the organizations working for freedom of opinion, expression and journalism reflect the extent of the decline in opportunities for journalists to exercise their rights. Figures released in mid-December 2022 by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) show that the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide last year reached its highest level in 30 years, reaching 363 by Dec. 1. December 2022 to 363 journalists, a 20 percent increase from 2021.
It has also been reported that authorities have used illegal tactics to crack down on journalists, particularly by arresting them, which is against the law where journalists are located. These techniques included searches, seizure of communication devices, appropriation of press reports, and blocking of their social media accounts.
In 2022, 533 media professionals were imprisoned, while 57 journalists were recently slain globally, according to the "Reporters Without Borders" organization's yearly tally of attacks against journalists throughout the world. 57 journalists have died in the past year, not to mention the 65 who have been abducted and the 49 who are still missing.
According to Skyline, one of the most significant examples of the risk journalists endure in their line of work was the murder of Palestinian journalist Sherine Abu Aqleh, an Al-Jazeera correspondent, last May as she was covering the Israeli army's invasion of the Jenin Palestinian camp. However, "Reporters Without Borders" organization observed more than 320 violations in the Palestinian territories this year, the majority of which were direct attacks by the Israeli army on journalists.
Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, and Finland are the top five countries in Skyline's ranking of those that respect press freedom, while the United Kingdom and the United States are ranked 24th and 42nd, respectively. The State of Qatar is ranked first in the Gulf region and fourth overall. The State of Qatar comes in first place among Arab nations and 119th overall.
Skyline further stresses that freedom of the press, the safety of journalists, the right of access to information and the guarantee of freedom of expression are at the forefront of the provisions set out in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; as they are a fundamental and most important prerequisite and basis for all other human rights. In this regard, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 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".
Despite the growth of independent media in most countries and the emergence of digital technologies and news websites through social networks, "Skyline" notes that this problem is accompanied by the adoption of restrictive laws in several countries, where the media war, the safety of journalists and freedom of expression remain at risk. Many journalists are unable to carry out their duties professionally because of the increasing attacks. By passing cybercrime laws and enforcing arbitrary fines for any actions that defy the status quo, many nations are trying to limit the amount of journalism that can be done online.
Skyline concludes its statement with a call to the international community and committees concerned with press freedom ( UN ) to exert more pressure on countries and parties that violate the rights of journalists. It stresses the importance of all countries and governments complying with international conventions that guarantee the free exercise of journalistic activity without restriction or persecution, and emphasizes the importance of releasing all imprisoned journalists and stopping all practices that violate the rights of journalists and media workers.