On the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, annually commemorated on May 3rd, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) joins the international community in observing this significant event, and with respect pays tribute to the sacrifices of those journalists and media professionals who risked or lost their lives while performing their professional duties at time of wars or unrests. According to some statistics in 2013 alone about 108 journalists were unfortunately killed worldwide while reporting from conflict zones.
This year’s theme ‘Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the post-2015 Development Agenda’ highlights the important role of the media in boosting development because it contributes to achieving good governance, empowerment and eradicating poverty. As the focus of 2014 World Press Freedom Day commemoration is on media’s importance in development, safety of journalists and the rule of law as well as the sustainability and integrity of journalism, the OIC takes this opportunity to emphasize on the need for protecting the safety and freedom of journalists while performing their professional duties. It also calls on journalists and media professionals to have a high sense of responsibility when performing their duties and to take into consideration societal harmony and wellbeing.
The spirit of the OIC Charter and Ten-Year Programme of Action stresses on the need for promoting cooperation among the OIC Member States in social, cultural and information fields and ascribe importance to cultural and information exchange. The Organization values the right of its Member States’ citizens to have easy access to information, and has urged for free and easy movement of media professionals.
The OIC sponsored resolution no. 16/18 on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief, which was adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council in its 16th Session on 12 April 2011, reaffirmed the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance. It also clearly condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means.
The OIC is of the view that media could be instrumental tool for national development especially when media professionals engage in dissemination of accurate unbiased information and constructive discussion of policies and programmes. Raising awareness on issues of development is fundamental for sustainable growth and economic empowerment.