September 25, 2023

PUL Celebrates World Press Freedom Day

Monrovia, Liberia – The Press Union of Liberia joined the rest of the world on May 3, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day in Monrovia.

On May 3 of each year, journalists across the globe converged at various locations to celebrate the day after it was proclaimed in 1993 by the UN general assembly following a recommendation from UNESCO’S General Conference.

The celebration is intended to raise awareness of the importance of press freedom and to remind governments of their role to uphold and respect freedom of expression under the Universal Declaration of Human rights.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day was celebrated under the theme: “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a Driver for all Other Human Rights.”

Serving as the keynote speaker for this year’s celebration Atty. Patmalia Doe-Paivey one of the Commissioners at the Independent National Human Rights Commission, (INHCR) and a former Journalist called on the Government of Liberia, Media stakeholders, and Political actors to protect the rights and ensure the greater protection of all journalists in Liberia.

In her address, Atty. Doe-Paivey noted that WPFD is set aside to call to action and remind duty bearers of their commitment to the greater protection for journalists and free press something which she said is a manifestation of the right to peacefully assembled.

Acknowledging the importance of the day as a former journalist, Atty. Doe-Paivey noted that many journalists were Slain and are still being harassed every day for the work they do, and as such, the day should be celebrated across Liberia to commemorate those whose lives were lost and placed behind bars for unearthing societal ills.

“I am here today in manifestation of absolute freedom of expression.”

She furthered indicated that freedom of expression and the public right to know can be undermined when journalists are underpaid.

“Freedom of expression and the public’s right to know can be compromised in a variety of ways. For example, it is against the law for journalists to be paid less than the minimum wage. Without suitable standards for entry into the profession, a managing editor telling a young reporter that this is merely a location where you can start out and that we don’t pay salaries is also violating their rights, Atty. Doe-Paivey maintained.

However, she asserted that in a post-conflict era where government entities with money in their budgets choose not to buy or subscribe to newspapers, nor pay for advertisements in the local dailies, but instead choose to use their social media platforms to post job openings and engage in other forms of communication, reduces the media’s capacity to advocate, grow, and produce quality content.

”The quality of is media improved when there are adequate resources to keep it operational and ethical. Despite the increase in media outlets, sustainability is still threatened and the potential for quality lags.”

She, however, commended the press union of Liberia and other media development organizations including, The Liberia Media Center, Female Journalist association(FeJAL), Center for Media Studies and Peace building (CEMESP) for the work done in ensuring that freedom of expression is maintained in the Liberian media.

speaking at the program organized by the Press Union of Liberia at the Monrovia City Hall, Atty. Doe-Paivey said it is crucial that the WPFD be observed by all Liberian journalists.

“The spirit of Slain Journalist Charles Gbeyon and others will be troubled if we allow today’s commemoration to go uncelebrated because of disagreements and political indifference.”

Her remarks drew attention to a recent press release from a group of journalists urging Patmalia Doe-Paivey and Malcolm Joseph of the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building to postpone attending the event until the Supreme Court rules on a bill of information they filed regarding the Union’s election, which they claimed was conducted illegally and was held in November of last year.

The celebration this year took place in an environment of variety. The group urged other journalists not to cover the event because the present leadership’s term has ended in their statement. But members of the PUL did not take ears to the call by the group, but was i full attendance to observe the day, noting that the day is for all journalist and not an individual.

Reported by: G. Watson Richards

Contact: +231880381808

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