The National Secretariat of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, felicitates with all Journalists across the world on the occasion of the 2023 World Press Freedom Day.
The association also acknowledges the various contributions of journalists, worldwide, particularly those who risk their lives at one point or another to provide essential information to the public as well as pay tribute to those Journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty.
This year’s theme for the Day: “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights”, is apt as it signifies the enabling element of freedom of expression to enjoy and protect all other human rights.
NAWOJ notes that although freedom of expression is a fundamental right, media freedom, safety of journalists and their freedom of expression are increasingly under attack, which impacts the realisation of other human rights.
Around the world, people face different kinds of conflicts and violence, persistent socio-economic inequalities, environmental crises and challenges to their health and general wellbeing, while disinformation and misinformation both online and offline proliferate with serious impact on the institutions underpinning democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
Furthermore, freedom of expression and other fundamental rights are threatened by polarised political and societal discourse, lack of trust, shutdown of internet, crackdown on critical voices and independent media, news desertification due to the collapse of traditional media business models, while tackling hate speech and online harms that disregard international standards pose new threats, globally.
NAWOJ observes further that in Nigeria, Journalists have continued to be objects of series of attacks, with some kidnapped, others manhandled or killed, and the practitioners are also subjected to physical and verbal attacks by security personnel, terrorists and individuals including a renowned cleric, who labelled Journalists as criminals for calling bandits criminals.
The plights of Journalists in Nigeria are enormous and are encapsulated in series of exacerbating challenges in the face of high and increasing cost of living given the nation’s dwindling economic fortunes and hazardous terrain most of them are practicing.
These include poor remuneration, arrears of owed salaries, non-implementation of the 22 per cent weigh-in or hazards allowances by most state governments, unconducive working environment and unfavourable conditions of service.
Therefore, in line with this year’s theme, freedom of expression, safety of Journalists and access to information as provided for by the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act are required to counter these critical situations and threats; even as having freedom of expression is a prerequisite and driver to the enjoyment of all other human rights.
On this 30th anniversary celebration of the World Press Freedom Day, NAWOJ re-emphasises the need for not just press freedom, but also independent, pluralistic and diverse media, which are key to the enjoyment of all other human rights, and calls for stock taking of the challenges facing media freedom and the safety of journalists in Nigeria with a view to solving them.
As, we, Journalists in Nigeria, join our professional colleagues, globally, to mark the Day, NAWOJ condemns the various unwarranted attacks meted on journalists in different parts of the country, in the course of carrying out their legitimate duties, sometimes despite properly identifying themselves as journalists.
NAWOJ, hereby, calls for the protection of Journalists, and the fostering of partnerships to defend Journalists from attacks, improve upon their welfare and guarantee freedom of expression within the overall human rights agenda.
May 03, 2023.