Rome – The International Federation for Rights and Development (IFRD) has called for international support to conduct the press without restrictions and the right to publish and receive information in light of the increased need for this with the outbreak of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a statement on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the Rome-based Federation said that the Corona pandemic was accompanied by a similar pandemic linked to incitement, and misinformation. The situation reaffirmed the importance of the role of the press and its scientific reports and analyzed it supported by the facts.
IFRD added that the right to obtain information is inherent in the right to health. Therefore, whenever governments enable their people to have health-related information, this has a benefit to the health of society. It requires strengthening the fight against misinformation and arbitrary restrictions towards a free, independent, and effective press.
Gamaal El-Attar, IFRD’s CEO, said that World Press Freedom Day falls this year when humanity is witnessing an enormous challenge of combating the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. The challenge is not only restricted to public health but also on public freedoms and the free flow of information.
El-Attar emphasized that the May 3rd event dedicated to celebrating the press should be a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to freedom of the press and lift restrictions on it, including legislation, arbitrary laws, and policies of detaining and restricting journalists.
In light of the Corona pandemic, El-Attar stressed the need to observe the principles of securing the safety of women journalists, journalists, and media professionals. Moreover, to support the creation of an independent and professional press environment free of political and commercial influence based mainly on enabling access to information and freedom of circulation.
He highlighted that while global calls for protecting journalists and empower them increased, several journalists in many countries with a poor human rights record have turned into victim projects that are being monitored and targeted with death, kidnapping or, even assassination.
While El-Attar saluted the journalists who lost their lives in the performance of their duties, he renewed the demand to defend the media independence and the need for governments to abide by their moral and legal obligations towards freedom of the press and stop violations against it.
International Federation for Rights and Development (IFRD) urged to strongly and firmly respond to every attempt aimed at harming press freedom or negatively affecting the performance of the profession, amending legislation to ensure this including providing protection to journalists and enabling them to fully exercise their work, and increasing penalties for perpetrators of violations of their rights.
IFRD also stressed that the right to freedom of expression and access to information must be respected in line with international human rights law, including the provision of accurate and accurate information regarding the nature of the threat of the Corona pandemic and the risks it poses.