Today is May 3. Every year, this day is celebrated as the World Press Freedom Day to champion the fundamental principles of the freedom of the media -considered the fourth pillar of democracy, defend the media from attacks and pay tribute to journalists who lost their lives while serving the profession.
The World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 after the adoption of a recommendation at the 26th session of the Unesco's General Conference two years prior to that. This was again a response to an appeal by African journalists who produced the Windhoek Declaration that year on the freedom and pluralism of the media.
May 3 is a date to raise awareness about the violations that press faces across the world - in the form of censorship, closure, verbal and physical attacks or even life threat and murder of journalists.
Press freedom has come under increasing attack in countries around the world with even the biggest democracies failing to live up to their expectations. While the media has come under increasing attack from the executive in the US; it has been targeted in India more vigorously of late - seeing its global rank slipping further. In September 2017, veteran journalist Gauri Lankesh was gunned down in front of her residence for challenging right-wing Hindu extremism and caste discrimination.
And not to talk about those authoritarian regimes where the media is in all the more trouble.
According to Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) based in Geneva, Switzerland, the number of journalists killed in 2018 has gone up to 44 in 18 countries in the first four months of the current year. In the corresponding period last year, it was 28. The PEC came up with the numbers on Wednesday, May 2.
In a statement, the PEC deplored the alarming rise in media victims (by 57 per cent) even as the world prepared for the press freedom day on Thursday.
The PEC's statement made a particular mention about the death of nine journalists in two explosions in Kabul in Afghanistan on April 30. It condemned the "heinous terrorist attack" targeting journalists.
It also listed countries that have been the most dangerous for journalists by the number of deaths in 2018. Afghanistan (11 deaths) led the lot followed by Mexico and Syria (4 each) and Ecuador, India and Yemen (three each).