In an era in which the freedom of speech and expression is considered as a crucial requisite for the progress of civilisation, experts noted a steep decline in the actual implementation of the human right in many parts of the world.
On World Press Freedom Day, various experts said that governments, organised crime, political institutions and criminal organisations are preventing people from making their voices heard. On one hand, the social media is being hailed as one of the strongest platforms for the people to express their opinions and denounce acts of corruption and violence and on the other, journalists are being sent to jail for exposing corruption.
“Last year, freedom of the press and of expression hit its lowest point in 12 years in 2015, as political, criminal, and terrorist forces sought to co-opt or silence the media in their broader struggle for power,” Freedom House stated in its annual report as quoted by teleSUR. The report added that only one in seven people of the world enjoys the free press.
“Steep declines worldwide were linked to two factors: heightened partisanship and polarisation in a country’s media environment, and the degree of extra-legal intimidation and physical violence faced by journalists,” said the report.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, around 200 journalists across the world have been jailed for exposing their governments. Imprisonment is not the only way though to suppress the dissenting voices. Thai journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk, who was banned by the military junta from leaving the country, wrote that journalists elsewhere not only face long-term detention but also assassination, Voa News reported.
“Most Thai journalists play it a little safe by ensuring that at least they adopt an adequate level of self-censorship when it comes to discussing or criticising the military regime,” he told VOA. “You know when you’ve crossed the line [when] you get detained without charge by the military regime.”
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rallied on Tuesday, demanding more freedom of speech for his country. He said that journalists and critics should not be imprisoned for criticising the government, the Ynet News reported.