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U.S. Marks World Press Freedom Day

As the World celebrates the World Press Freedom Day, on Sunday, the United States government has paid special honor to the importance of media freedom, which it described as a crucial element of freedom of expression.

In a statement issued to commemorate the day and also highlight the efforts of the U.S. government towards upholding the freedom of the press around the world, the U.S. state department said a diverse and independent press is crucial to holding governments accountable and sustaining democracy around the world.

In view of this, the statement said the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) at the U.S. Department of State details the state of media freedom around the world in the Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

In addition to that, it said the USAID Media Sustainability Index is an equally important tool in monitoring and reporting on media freedom.

“The United States continuously works to advance media freedom around the world through bilateral engagement, public diplomacy, programming, and multilateral diplomacy,” the statement said.

The statement also mentioned how the “DRL’s Internet Freedom programs have provided tools and trainings to thousands of vulnerable civil society and independent journalists around the world.”

It added that, “Since 2008, DRL has invested over $100 million in Internet Freedom programs to promote and protect human rights online. These programs have helped to train over 10,000 at-risk journalists and human rights defenders on digital safety and supported the development and dissemination of anti-censorship and secure communication tools that have helped millions of users access the Internet and stay safe online.”

Apart from the mentioned programs, the statement also detailed how the State Department’s Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, has welcomed more than 1,000 rising international journalists to the U.S. since 2006 to examine the essential role of independent media in fostering and protecting freedom of expression and democracy.

The U.S. government has also brought media freedom issues to the fore at the United Nations and in regional multilateral forums. A good example of this was how the United States fully endorsed the 2012 UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity among others.

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Adejuwon Soyinka

Adejuwon Soyinka was former Deputy General Editor, TELL Magazine and Editor, www.tell.ng, the online publication of TELL Communications Limited

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