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Message from the President on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2015

(Castries, May 17, 2015) As we join with the rest of the world in celebrating World Press Freedom Day, I do so with a sense of pride in the enormous strides we have made locally and globally in the advancement of the press and media in general. World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference and has been observed since then on 3 May: the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek.

It is an opportunity for us to:

  1. celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
  2. assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
  3. defend the media from attacks on their independence;
  4. pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

This year our theme is: Let Journalism Thrive! Towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age. And how fitting a theme, with the challenges that media professionals are faced around the world. Reporting from the front lines of the ISIS war and other wars in the Middle East, to the atrocities being perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring states, puts our brothers and sisters at the heart of these events and in grave danger. We, in the MASL pray for their safety and for continued excellent work in bringing the truth out to the world.

However, we cannot ignore the threats that we face here ourselves that, although incomparable in scale, are still significant to those who live and work in media here. We support UNESCO’s focus this year on gender balance and digital safety but, are particularly interested in “quality journalism.” We continue to highlight the need for professional training and standards within our organisation, and we encourage all our members to share in this for their personal advancement. On Tuesday, we will host a dialogue with News Editors and Talk Show hosts to discuss threats against our profession. We need to address this issue from a collective standpoint in order to let everyone know that it will not be tolerated.

On behalf of the Media Association of Saint Lucia, I wish all media professionals a Happy World Press Freedom Day and I look forward to seeing major improvements as we mature in our craft.

The MASL also extends congratulations to the 2015 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize ceremony winner, Syrian journalist and human rights activist, Mazen Darwish, who is currently imprisoned, with best wishes for his release in the very near future.

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