World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. | Den norske Helsingforskomité

NHC marks World Press Freedom Day on 3 May

NHC marks World Press Freedom Day on 3 May

An extensive five-day training seminar for Belarusian journalists opens in Vilnius today. We also issue an appeal to the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova to put forward an initiative for the release of imprisoned Azerbaijani editor Eynulla Fattullayev.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 3 May to be World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

NHC today opens a five day long School of Human Rights for Journalists titled "Professional Journalism and Human Rights" in Vilnius, Lithuania training 22 journalists from Belarus. The journalists represent various independent media and the seminar is organized in cooperation with Belarusian and Norwegian Association for Journalists. The program includes legal protection of journalists, Code of Ethics, human rights and various journalistic tools. Among the lecturers we find experienced Belarusian and Norwegian journalists as well as NHC’s Enver Djuliman. See the full program of the training here.


At the initiative of the Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety, the NHC is among the international press freedom organization to support an appeal to UNESCO.


"We are approaching the 3rd of May - International Press Freedom Day, and it is for this reason that we are writing to you. We are appealing on behalf of Eynulla Fatullayev, the imprisoned Azerbaijani journalist and internationally recognized prisoner of conscience, who has been held in prison for over 4 years in Azerbaijan.

Fatullayev has been behind bars since April 2007. During this period, The European Court of Human Rights has recognized his innocence and called for his immediate release in April, 2010. The Council of Europe Cabinet of Ministers discussed the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights judgment and the release of Fatullayev, and adopted concrete decisions in its November 2010 and March 2011 sessions.

We regret to note that not only the journalist, but also his family members have faced threats, pressures and provocation. He was moved into solitary confinement many times; his parents received death threats against him via telephone. Drug possession charges were made against Fatullayev in December, 2011, with the intent to prevent the implementation of anticipated ECHR decision, and his sentence was subsequently extended. This demonstrates that the journalist’s life is in danger.

We are aware that UNESCO, as a specialized branch of the UN, is particularly concerned with marking International Press Freedom Day. UNESCO aims to protect freedom of speech and expression across the world. As a clear example, we can refer to the UNESCO/Gilermo Cano Prize. This year, this prize was awarded to the journalists from Iran and the presentation ceremony of the prize will be held on May 3. We believe that UNESCO should call for the release of all imprisoned journalists worldwide and for an end to the pressure they are facing.

Considering the aforementioned, we request that you put forward an initiative for the release of Eynulla Fatullayev and other imprisoned journalists, and call upon the Azerbaijani authorities to free him."

The following organisations support this statement:

ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression; Human Rights House Foundation; Index on Censorship; Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety; Reporters Without Borders; World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers; Media Legal Defence Initiative; International Pen; Freedom House; Media Diversity Institute; International Press Institute; Norwegian Helsinki Committee; Committee to Protect Journalists, Media Rights Institute.