Yesterday, Antony Blinken outlined the importance of the independent press as the United States is gearing up to celebrate World Press Freedom Day. He cited that both information and knowledge are powerful tools of a free press. These two points also is the ‘core institution’ connecting the public to the information they need to advocate.

The US also slammed partial or complete government-imposed Internet shutdowns, among other tactics, to prevent the exercise of freedom of expression online. “We urge governments to investigate and seek accountability for all crimes against journalists and media workers,” Blinken cited.

Addressing the media, he emphasized the need for ‘Internet freedom’. He expressed his concern over the government controlling, and censoring content. “Governments should not shut down, block, throttle, censor, or filter services, as these actions undermine and unduly restrict the rights of peaceful assembly,” he said.

In the meeting, he mentioned that the US advocates for both online and offline press freedom, and the safety of journalists and media workers worldwide. For a prosperous and secure democratic society, Blinken reiterated that ‘Freedom of expression’ and access to factual and accurate information provided by independent media are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies.

Speaking about it in detail, Blinken cited that according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression includes the right of all individuals to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

According to the Department’s 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, it has been disclosed that several media workers have been harassed, attacked, and even killed for their work. “In 2020, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported the number of journalists killed in retaliation for their reporting has been doubled,” he added.

Furthermore, the CPJ also highlighted the number of journalists who have been jailed. The figures turned out to be the highest level in 2020. In the present situation when the world is going through a tough phase due to the pandemic, Blinken stated that it was significant for journalists to work freely so that they can deliver proper information to the public.

“We call on all governments to ensure media safety and protect journalists’ ability to do their jobs without fear of violence, threats, or unjust detention,” he said.