In a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day that was observed around the world yesterday, Benjamin Moeling, Chargé d’Affaires at the United States Embassy in Khartoum, underlines the importance of a free press to politics and society.
Moeling: As the international community marks World Press Freedom Day this week, we at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum reiterate our view that a free exchange of ideas is the foundation for good governance, accountability, and economic sustainability. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted in the most recent Human Rights Report, “Countries that suppress freedom of expression are less likely to have economies that innovate, diversify, and grow.”
In the United States, Sudan, and around the world, media foster intellectual debate, uncover hidden truth, and give voice to those who can’t speak for themselves. In doing so, they provide an invaluable service to society, for which we commend and thank them. We particularly salute the courageous professionals who report at great personal risk to themselves, as they question authority, uncover abuse, and report from the front lines of conflict zones.
"A free press is essential to shining light into the dark…”
Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in 1914, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” In other words corruption, greed, discrimination, war, and other “diseases” grow better in the dark than in the light. A free press is essential to shining light into the dark, but we are witnessing a disturbing global decline in media freedom, in which journalists are oppressed and silenced by detention, harassment, and violence. We all have a responsibility to speak out for them. In fact, the United Nations declared World Press Freedom Day for exactly this purpose — to remind nations of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is “Access to information is a fundamental freedom.” With this in mind, our Embassy will continue to work with journalists, media institutions, and civil society organizations to promote greater access to information, by the media and the public. We will continue to strongly advocate for the legal, and genuine, protection of all journalists and their fundamental right to freedom of expression. We will continue to provide training and other resources for media, and we’ll continue to connect American and Sudanese media professionals so they can exchange ideas and best practices.
“Access to information is a fundamental freedom.”
The challenges we face today are complex, enduring, and global in nature, and so must be our shared response. We give thanks to our colleagues in the media for their role in helping us to make more informed, thoughtful, and collaborative decisions, for the benefit of our families, our communities, and our countries. Happy World Press Freedom Day!