Challenging attacks on press freedom and standing in solidarity with silenced journalists is now more important than ever, PEN Malta and PEN International said, as World Press Freedom Day is marked on May 3.
The coming decade will be crucial for the future of journalism, with the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbating the many crises that have been jeopardising press freedom.
PEN Malta underlines the need for the Maltese government to stop suppressing information to the media and to eradicate all obstacles for independent news organisations, many of which are financially crippled because of the pandemic.
The NGO is also greatly concerned with a magistrate's recent decision to institute contempt-of-court proceedings against journalists, a harsh decision which is potentially in breach of freedom of speech.
The right to reliable information in the age of fake news shaping up a ‘post-truth’ society is more important than ever.
PEN Malta also calls on the Maltese authorities to ensure full justice for all those involved in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder and further calls on the authorities to act on the findings of the public inquiry once concluded.
For World Press Freedom Day, PEN International will pay tribute to journalists who died and remember those targeted in the pursuit of a story.
During this week, the organisation will focus on the cases of Idris Said ‘Abba Arre’ (Eritrea), Daphne Caruana Galizia (Malta), Kalúa Salazar (Nicaragua) and Maria Ressa (Philippines). PEN Malta is also launching a call for submissions for the possibility of being published on the Daphne Caruana Galizia poetry memorial on PEN International’s website. Further details to follow.
PEN International’s activities to mark World Press Freedom Day are part of a series of events planned throughout 2021 to mark PEN International’s centenary.
“For a century now, PEN’s global membership has been mobilising in support of an independent and free press, defending journalists who are emotionally, verbally, and physically threatened and sometimes killed for speaking truth to power, and urging political leaders to guarantee freedom of expression,” said Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International.
“At a time when threats against the press around the world are at an unprecedented high, PEN’s community continues to defend and protect the role of an independent and free press in uncovering the truth and sustaining democracy.”
The UN General Assembly proclaimed World Press Freedom Day in 1993. It recognised the fundamental principles of press freedom, including the importance of defending media from attacks on their independence and of paying tribute to journalists who died while exercising their profession.
PEN Malta was constituted by private writing of its founding members on April 12, 2021. It is an aspiring PEN centre pending accreditation by the Annual Congress of PEN International. PEN Malta is a legal person under the laws of Malta and awaiting enrolment as a voluntary organisation under the Voluntary Organisations Act.