Muawad Mustafa Rashid
World Press Freedom Day is celebrated on May 3 each year. The day was proclaimed as such by the UN General Assembly in 1993 acting on a recommendation from UNESCO.
The day is used to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The theme for this year’s World Press Freedom Day is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.”
Today, the contribution of free, pluralistic, independent and safe journalism to democracy is under unprecedented stress.
Also, election outcomes and their aftermath are critically affected by political discourse and communications, including the role of the media in relation to the polling process.
Many societies have falling trust in established political parties and in news outlets themselves. This is often accompanied by polarizing political discourse that threatens peaceful elections as well as press freedom.
The theme of the day aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
SDG 16, for example, concerns issues of peace and democracy as preconditions for equitable and sustainable development.
It states that: “When freedom of expression and safety of journalists are protected, the media can play a vital role in preventing conflict and in supporting peaceful democratic processes.”
SDG 16.10 also urges states to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.
Ensuring the safety of journalists is the primary way by which we can foster the independence and freedom of the press, as crucial for democracy. Such a goal is also vital to ensure public access to information.
In 2018 index prepared by Reporter Without Borders Sudan’s ranking was the seventh worst state in the globe in press freedoms as it occupied rank 174.
This means that press freedom in Sudan has yet to be consolidated.
Trust in the media, as well as media freedom, is becoming more tenuous every day.
Now, and after the uprising the Sudanese press is still witnessing gloomy conditions a matter that requires from the journalists to sit together and discuss the issues of the profession considering that press is the spearhead of the aspired reform and democratic transformation.
Let us hope that the journalists present initiatives towards a healthy press community because the individual efforts would be faced by complicated reality within the new political stage which is in the stage of reshaping.