U.S. President Barack Obama said history showed that a free press remained a critical foundation for prosperous, open, and secure societies, allowing citizens to access information and hold their governments accountable.
He said this in a statement issued by the White House in New York on Monday to mark the first-ever International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
“Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reiterates the fundamental principle that every person has the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media.
Obama hailed journalists for taking extraordinary risks to publish stories that expose corruption.
He also said journalists had borne witness to the dignity of innocent men, women and children suffering the horrors of war.
He noted that in the service to humanity, hundreds of journalists had been killed in the past decade alone, while countless more had been harassed, threatened, imprisoned and tortured.
“In the overwhelming majority of these cases, the perpetrators of these crimes against journalists go unpunished,” he said.
Obama challenged all governments to protect the ability of journalists to write and speak freely, as well as ensure their societies enjoyed unfettered freedom of speech.
He commended the priceless contributions by journalists “to the freedom and security of us all, shining light into the darkness and for giving voice to the voiceless.
“We honour the sacrifices so many journalists have made in their quest for the truth, and demand accountability for those who have committed crimes against journalists,” he said.