MEDIA practitioners in East African Community (EAC) partner states have been urged to strive in their obligations, embracing the freedom afforded to them but know that it comes with responsibility.
EAC Secretary General, Dr Peter Mathuki cautioned the journalists that although they have a unique reputation in spearheading development, they should know that there are limits that have to be observed.
He was speaking in an event to mark World Freedom Day for this year that goes with the theme ‘Information as a Public Good’.
The day that is dedicated to freedom of press underscores the need for governments and people across the world to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.
It is a day of showing solidarity among journalists, photojournalists and all associated with the media, who brave the tough conditions to disseminate information and bring news from across the world to the homes of people.
It is also a remembrance of the journalists, who lost their lives in the pursuit of stories.
Dr Mathuki noted that it is pertinent to recognise how journalists are important for the public, as key stakeholders in informing, education and entertaining, so that the public knows what is happening in different parts of the world, their rights as well as responsibilities.
“We know how important the journalists are and the press at large, but their freedom comes with responsibility. We, at EAC appreciate the way you perform your duties and we crave that you put more effort in integration of the Community and uniting the world. Work hard so that the fruit may be economic growth for individual countries as well as the bloc and the world at large,” noted the Kenyan.
He called upon the scribes to join EAC that aims to widen and deepen cooperation among partner states in various key spheres, encouraging the journalists that in such pursuit, they should embrace responsible journalism for development.
“We salute media and journalists in the world as we celebrate World Press Freedom Day. We encourage journalists to embrace responsible journalism for development in the EAC. Let us not forget the fact that media freedom comes with social responsibility. I therefore urge you to respect the rights and freedoms of other persons as you exercise your rights of free expression and access to information,” he noted.
He said EAC appreciates media freedom because no society could afford to develop without a free and independent media that plays the role of informing, educating and communicating with its citizens.
Dr Mathuki participated in Media Run day along with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Country Representative, Mr Tirso Dos Santos and Arusha District Commissioner, Mr Kenani Kihongosi.
In his message on World Press Freedom Day, the Director- General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay said the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day underlines the indisputable importance of verified and reliable information.
It calls attention to the essential role of free and professional journalists in producing and disseminating information, by tackling misinformation and other harmful content.
United Nations Secretary General, Mr António Guterres noted that in too many countries, journalists and media workers face censorship, abuse, harassment, detention and even death, simply for doing their jobs.
He urged all governments to do everything in their power to support a free, independent and diverse media.