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World Press Freedom and Gaza

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May 3 is marked as World Press Freedom Day, where UNESCO commemorates the value of truth and the people who work to uncover it amidst an increasingly perilous time for journalists globally. This is particularly true for the journalists and media workers in Gaza, as Israel’s war on Gaza has become the deadliest conflict for journalists, with more than 100 journalists and media workers killed in the first seven months of the war. Such violence is not only an attack on journalists but also results in the loss of our eyes and ears to the outside world, affecting the voiceless. Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasized the need to protect journalists and their freedom in a statement. 

The situation in Gaza is dire, with over 140 killed, with five journalists killed every week since October 7. While the war continues, Gaza’s reporters must be protected, and those who wish to leave must be evacuated. The few reporters who have been able to leave have borne witness to journalists being attacked, injured and killed. Palestinian journalism must be safeguarded as a matter of urgency. 

According to the CPJ, 25 journalists and media workers have been killed worldwide so far in 2024, with 20 of those killed in Palestine. In 2023, more than three-quarters of the 99 journalists and media workers killed worldwide died in the Israel-Gaza war, with Palestinians being the majority of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza. Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ programme director, said, “Each time a journalist dies or is injured, we lose a fragment of that truth.” 

Press freedom is most restricted in Eritrea, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran, according to the 2024 World Press Freedom Index. Meanwhile, 320 journalists and media workers were imprisoned as of December 1, 2023, with China, Myanmar, Belarus, Russia and Vietnam being the countries with the highest number of jailed journalists. China has been one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists, with nearly half of the 44 journalists imprisoned being Uighurs.

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