UNESCO celebrates World Press Freedom Day 2020 in Palestine highlighting the global theme “Journalism without fear of favour” in the context of COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the UNESCO National Office for Palestine, in cooperation with the Pstinian Journalists Syndicate and the Media Development Center at Birzeit University celebrated the World Press Freedom Day this year through, virtual events and activities.

A dedicated morning show was broadcasted on Local Radio stations, discussing the level of freedoms in Palestine and the region, sharing professional lessons learned from the shadow of the pandemic on media freedoms. Focus was made on the thin line between stay safe and report the truth momentarily under Emergency Law, Stand up for facts and independent journalism to provide reliable, life-saving information during the COVID-19 pandemic and to present a preview of the forthcoming.

A handbook on Psychological safety guidance for reporters and Journalists working in high-risk environments covering such pandemics was issued in Arabic Language. This book is part of the series of “UNESCO” publications for journalism, which constitute the focus of UNESCO’s international program for the development of communication, as it seeks to engage in teaching and practicing journalism and related research from an international perspective, including the exchange of good global practices.

In her special message delivered on this occasion, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO stated: “At a time when we are mired in worry and uncertainty because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, free information is essential to helping us face, understand, think about and overcome this crisis. We must consider the vital importance of information in this situation: informing the public means giving everyone the means of combatting the illness by adopting appropriate practices. This is why the Organization has teamed up with the rest of the United Nations family to fight the “infodemic” of rumours and disinformation which is exacerbating the pandemic and putting lives at risk”.

UNESCO continues to organize special training webinars, targeting young journalists on General health issues and un-safe conditions in crisis times including COVID-19, due to the lack of safety equipment; as well as to strengthen the capacities of Journalists in ethical and trustworthy reporting, since the world needs professional journalism & reliable information, debunk rumors & disinformation. This effort comes as a recognition of the Palestinian government’s new regulations and actions against disinformation, misinformation, fake and false information and news published by the journalists on different media platforms.

On 3 May every year, World Press Freedom celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. At the core of UNESCO’s mandate is freedom of the press and freedom of expression. UNESCO believes that these freedoms allow mutual understanding to build a sustainable peace.