Namibia Commemorates World Press Freedom Day 2015 [press release]

As the birth country of the Windhoek Declaration, which is the founding document of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), it is imperative that Namibia not only participates, but also reflect on the state of our media and free expression environment.

Annually commemorated on 03 May, WPFD evaluates the state of media freedom around across the globe highlights the fundamental principles of press freedom promotes the safety of journalists and pays tribute to those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Namibia officially commemorated WPFD on Wednesday, 06 May, but on Sunday, 03 May, actors and poets held a Call to Action on Access to Information (ATI), which continues to be one of MISA Namibia’s main aocacy messages since the launch of the ACTION Campaign in 2012.

On 05 May, a Media Ethics in the Digital Age workshop was held at the Polytechnic of Namibia’s Media Laboratory for bloggers, media students, members of MISA Namibia’s THINKB4ULOL Youth Media Action Group and social media users. In his welcoming address, Media Ombudsman Clement Daniels noted that Namibia is still in process of adapting to the possibilities introduced by digitalization, he however emphasised that ethical considerations remain the same. He urged participants to consult the Namibian Media Code of Ethics and ensure that they respect others’ right to privacy and dignity when expressing themselves online.

The official commemoration, also held at the Polytechnic, gathered media practitioners, government officials, students and civil society representatives for a half-day programme which included a panel discussion on the 2015 global theme: Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality and Media Safety in the Digital Age.

In his keynote address, newly appointed Minister of Information and Communication Technology Tjekero Tweya, noted that the media plays a fundamental role in the dissemination of information which is pertinent in creating unity, providing education, promoting peace and should therefore be used constructively.

“I am of the opinion and firmly believe that the media have the tools to encourage economic growth and facilitate trade through promoting local products and services that can stimulate further international investment and interest in our country,” he said.

Tweya said government will continue to produce policies that would promote a conducive environment in which journalist can produce their work without fear, intimidation or censorship.

“It is however, important to emphasise that with rights, comes responsibility and accountability and it is the duty of the Government of the Republic of Namibia to ensure that all citizens’ rights are protected.”

Chairperson of the Editors’ Forum of Namibia Eberhard Hofmann said that because of the high international rating in media freedom that Namibia has achieved and enjoyed during at least the past two years, media practitioners may be tempted to become smug and comfortable.

“But everyone here knows, for the media and its allied stakeholders in civil society, there is no time to rest on laurels. In society, on national, regional and international level it means media and their stakeholders have to be ever vigilant and prepared to uphold the values which make up a healthy democratic society and the rule of law.”

Hofmann lamented that over the past few years they have noticed a growing tendency by some ministries that “simply ignore written requests, particularly if it concerns controversial issues exposing weaknesses in service delivery or neglect of duty.”

He noted that walling up against transparency is neither in line with the public service code nor with the culture of open dialogue Namibia has enjoyed particularly since independence and needs to cultivate further.

Other speakers at the event included the Rector of the Polytechnic Professor Tjama Tjivikua, Head of the EU Delegation to Namibia Ambassador Raul Fuentes Milani, while a video message on WPFD was delivered by UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova. Also present was the UN Resident Coordinator Tim Bandora, and the director of ceremonies was MISA Namibia National Director Natasha Tibinyane.

Entertainment was provided by the Ondunga Cultural Troup, and poets Irene Garoes and Playshis, accompanied by actors, performed poetry they had written on the 2015 WPFD theme.

Tibinyane noted that 2016 is the 25th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, the seminal document on which World Press Freedom was founded.

“03 May gives Namibians, and local media practitioners in particular, the opportunity to reflect on our media environment, the positive amp negative, and recommit ourselves to the principles espoused in the Declaration.

But we must also use the opportunity to be proud of the fact that we are the birth country of the Declaration and that we continue to be one of the highest ranked countries in regard to media freedom worldwide.”

Enquiries:

Natasha Tibinyane, National Director, MISA Namibia

Tel: + 264 61 232975 E-mail:

Source : Media Institute of Southern Africa