By Alex P. Vidal
LOS ANGELES, California — Press freedom is a key element of the freedom of expression, which is a foundation for other universal human rights. This was the emphasis made by the United States through the Department of Justice in celebration of the World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
During the World Press Freedom Day and every day, the United States State Department, in a “diplomacy in action” statement, declared it was honoring and supporting media freedom at home and abroad.
In 2011, the United States hosted the international World Press Freedom Day activities in Washington, D.C. This year, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Esther Brimmer is leading the U.S. delegation to a World Press Freedom conference in Tunisia, May 2-6; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathy Fitzpatrick of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor will also attend
As a part of its “Free the Press” campaign, the Department of State has documented on http://www.HumanRights.gov emblematic cases of journalists living and working under threat and duress because of their efforts to exercise the freedom of expression.
“We call on all governments to protect the universal human right to freedom of expression,” the statement said emphasizing that “advancing media freedom is a regular part of U.S. diplomatic work.”
It added further: “We advocate for freedom of expression and raise media freedom issues, including specific cases, in bilateral discussions with other governments and in multilateral bodies, including but not limited to the UN Human Rights Council, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Organization of American States. At the OSCE, for example, the United States has been a leading voice for freedom of expression and the defense of journalists, and championed a Ministerial Declaration to support fundamental freedoms in the Digital Age.”
The Department of State said it reports on the state of media freedom around the world—and threats to journalists—through the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. USAID’s Media Sustainability Index measures the media environment in countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Eurasia.
With support from Congress, the Department of State and USAID said they fund foreign assistance and exchange programs that support a free press and Internet freedom.