Canadian-Egyptian acting Al-Jazeera bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy in court today in Egypt (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam)
Today is the United Nations’ World Press Freedom Day — an annual opportunity to highlight the ideals of a free press while paying tribute to those journalists who have lost their lives while doing their job.
This year’s themes, heading into an international conference in Paris Monday and Tuesday, include the role a free media can play in development, the safety of journalists, and the sustainability and integrity of journalism, especially in tough economic times.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a briefing Thursday at UN headquarters declaring: “Freedom of expression, independent media and universal access to knowledge will fortify our efforts to achieve lasting results for people and the planet.
“On this World Press Freedom Day, I call on all governments, societies and individuals to actively defend this fundamental right as critical factors in achieving the Millennium Development Goals [eight goals agreed to by all the UN countries and leading development institutions to meet the needs of the poorest by 2015] and advancing the post-2015 development agenda,” said Ban.
It’s somewhat ironic that this year’s World Press Freedom Day falls on the very day the trial is scheduled to resume for Mohamed Fahmy. The Egyptian-Canadian journalist is still behind bars in Cairo, along with Al Jazeera colleagues Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, after being charged by Egyptian authorities with endangering national security and publishing stories in service of the Muslim Brotherhood – a charge Al Jazeera denies. Today, Fahmy was once again denied bail by an Egyptian judge.
On Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists — an organization that works to defend the rights of journalists — said at least two journalists have been reported missing in Ukraine in the past week, while others have been reportedly attacked.
Here’s the Committee’s status report for 2014:
14 Journalists Killed so far in 2014 (Motive Confirmed)
(70 killed in 2012)
(74 killed in 2011)
21% Human Rights
Most common profile
29% Broadcast reporter
29% Camera Operator
50% working in television
Deadliest Countries in 2014
2. Afghanistan, Brazil, Syria
3. Egypt, Pakistan, Ukraine, Mexico, DRC