In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3 May as World Press Freedom Day. It celebrates the importance of press freedom and freedom of expression and acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to a free press.
According to the official history, it was a declaration on 3 May 1991 by 60 or so African journalists gathered in Windhoek, Namibia, that called for the creation of a World Press Freedom Day, but in reality, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organised the first international press freedom day 13 days before that, thereby inspiring the celebration now held every year for the past 30 years.
To mark the occasion, an event organised by the Foreign Press Association in association with Reporters Without Borders, was held at the premises of the Royal Overseas League.
A panel of journalists reporting from countries such as China, Russia, Ukraine and Iran, together with Director of the Foreign Press Association, Deborah Bonetti, and Director of RSF, Fiona O’Brien, discussed their professional journalistic experiences.
The first speaker, Fiona O’Brien, spoke about the importance of statistics and of the aggression towards journalists, especially from authoritarian countries.
Kim Sengupta, recalled the dramatic and devastating experience he went through whilst covering the brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
Rana Rahimpour, a British-Iranian journalist working with the BBC, explained the difficulties she faced and the dangerous position she found herself in whilst trying to report about two British women in prison in Iran.
Howard Zhang, Editor of BBC Chinese, noted that journalists have less freedom if they report on anything that goes against the regime, adding that you would no longer be welcome in the country.
Three members of the Association of European Journalists UK took part in the event, including Mrs Nevsal Hughes, Chairman Prof William Horsley and well-known cameraman/photographer Doros Partasides.
The World Press Freedom Index, which aims to compare the level of press freedom enjoyed by journalists and media in 180 countries and territories, ranks Norway at the top of the list. The UK is at No.26, USA at No.45, Cyprus at No.55, Greece at No.107, Russia at No.164, Turkey at No.165, Iran at No.177, China at No.179, and right at the bottom is North Korea.

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