Liberia: Deputy Speaker Arrives in Barclayville ahead of World Press Freedom Day Celebration

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The Grand Kru County District #2 Representative will speak on the role of a free, independent and pluralistic media in light of the constant pressures and violence faced by media professionals.

BARCLAYVILLE, Grand Kru County — The Deputy Speaker of the 54th Legislature and Grand Kru County District #2 Representative, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa has arrived in Barclayville Thursday ahead of the 2021 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) celebration, organized by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).

Deputy Speaker is in Barclayville and will serve as Guest Speaker of the indoor program of the World Press Freedom Day which is slated on Monday, May 3, 2021.

The program coincides with the Deputy Speaker 45 communities’ tour, which kickoff Friday, April 16.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day is under the theme: “Information as a Public Good; 30 years of the Windbook Declaration.”

According to the event’s theme, the Grand Kru County lawmaker, is expected to focus his oration on the encouragement of press freedom, independence and pluralism in Liberia and Africa at large and in other parts of the world.

The Grand Kru County District #2 Representative will speak on the role of a free, independent and pluralistic media in light of the constant pressures and violence faced by media professionals.

The Deputy Speaker would climax his speech with the responsibilities that comes with the right to freedom of expression which involves that every citizen is held responsible for the exercise of this right, meaning careless comments and unguarded remarks can land one in trouble if the exercise of rights ain’t done responsibly.

The Deputy Speaker is a Counselor-at-Law, an administrator and a lead public figure who champions press freedom evidently of promoting media diversity in Grand Kru County with the establishment of Radio Ahteenah which is providing opportunities to underprivilege residents of the county to be heard.

Hundreds of Liberian journalists from across the country have started to converge in Grand Kru County’s Capital Barclayville City where this year’s event will be taking place.

Meanwhile, the universal theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day derived from the Windhoek Declaration after a successful seminar.

The Windhoek Seminar

From 29 April to 3 May 1991, African independent journalists gathered at the UNESCO seminar “Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Media” held in Windhoek, Namibia. The conference focused on the role of a free, independent and pluralistic media in light of the constant pressures and violence faced by media professionals working in Africa.

The Windhoek seminar on “promoting an independent and pluralistic African press” was held in partnership with other UN Agencies such as UNDP. The event was supported by 12 international agencies, ranging from Nordic funders, the International Federation of Journalists, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and the World Association of Newspapers. A total of 63 participants from 38 countries attended. Hage Geingob, the then-prime minister of newly independent Namibia, set the tone by highlighting the importance of independence and a watchdog role for the press.

The Declaration was adopted in 1991 in a climate of optimism. It was due, in most part, to Namibia’s newfound freedom, the slow unraveling of apartheid in South Africa as well as growing resistance to African dictatorships and development−type autocratic regimes. This context resulted in an impetus for democratic reforms within a rapidly changing media environment across the continent.

The Windhoek perspective continues to imply an important role for governments, but within firm parameters of freedom, pluralism and independence. States should be proactive in protecting journalists and advancing opportunities for citizens to exercise freedom of expression. And states should avoid controlling the media, and avoid having a state monopoly on the media. Further, the Windhoek view on pluralism points to states ensuring legal and practical support of sectors such as public service and community media.

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