Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, August 18th, 2017

World Press Freedom Day

Every year, May 03 is celebrated as World Press Freedom Day, internationally. The purpose of the day is to highlight the importance of free press in democratic societies and to censure the attempts that are directed towards restricting or controlling the press for political purposes. The day also remembers the efforts of different journalists for the development and growth of media and press, and pay tribute to those journalists who lost their lives performing their duties. 
The day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993, after the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then the day is celebrated each year with a particular theme. This year’s theme for the Day is, “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies.” The world is going through critical times and in such a scenario, it is important for media and press to highlight the issues that human beings face in an unbiased and critical way so that truth should be disseminated. Moreover, the government and other authorities should make sure that they do not create hurdle for the journalists to collect relevant information, as every journalist has the right to gather information and every individual has the right to receive correct information.
It is also vital to protect freedom of press from censorship and surveillance overreach, and ensure the safety for journalism, online and offline. And this demand is not just a vague demand. It is based on the international law. Journalists, according to the Declaration of Rights and Duties of the Journalists, must have free access to all information sources, and the right to freely inquire on all events conditioning public life. Therefore, secret of public or private affairs may be opposed only to journalists in exceptional cases and for clearly expressed motives. And, any factor hindering the journalists from having access to all information sources must be considered illegal and should be eliminated.
Moreover, the journalist have the right to refuse subordination to anything contrary to the general policy of the information organ to which he collaborates such as it has been laid down by writing and incorporated in his contract of employment, as well as any subordination not clearly implicated by this general policy. And, the journalists cannot be compelled to perform a professional act or to express an opinion contrary to his convictions or his conscience.
The claim of the rights of the press or journalists is not only advantageous for them but for the entire society. If press and journalists are free to do their job they can support in identifying the facts and figures within the society, which will portray a complete picture and also assist in finding out the deficiencies. Unless, people have the true picture of the socio-political conditions, it is very difficult to have awareness and be able to play a positive role within the society.
There is a sort of ill-intention behind imposing hindrances in the way of press freedom. There are certain factions within the society that do not intend that the people should know about their activities and their intentions; therefore, they make efforts to ban or hinder the media. By doing so they make sure that their evil deeds remain concealed and do not receive attention.
Sometimes, the governments, themselves, suggest or impose ban or restrictions on media. It is because of the fact that they do not like criticism on what they do. They fear that if press and media disclose their activities or the shortcomings in their policies and practices, the public opinion may turn against them and they may lose popular will or even legitimacy.  
On some other occasions, certain strata in society, having the support of the government or the certain administrative units pressurize the press so that they do not go against their wills. They may have certain intentions or objectives that are only for their own personal benefits or may even involve illegal practice or the violation of the constitution; therefore, they through the government machinery impose bans and restrictions on the press so that their motives are not disclosed.
Ill-fatedly, Afghanistan is also one of the countries that have not been giving enough heed to the freedom of the press and the rights of the journalists. The war and conflicts and the negligence of the relevant authorities have resulted in poor development in media sector and particularly in press. Moreover, different sorts of discrimination against the journalists have continued in different parts of the county. Afghan government, different organizations and groups both national and international must make sure that they strive to make efforts in bringing about real changes for the development of press in the country and must protect the rights of the journalists as they are not a party to the conflict and do not serve anyone’s purpose.
Provided that the rights of the journalists are protected, it is important that the journalists must fulfill their responsibilities in the best possible manner. They are required to respect truth whatever be the consequence to themselves, because of the right of the public to know the truth; defend freedom of information, comment and criticism; and report only on facts of which they know the origin of; not to suppress essential information nor alter texts and documents and not to use unfair methods to obtain news, photographs or documents.