Pope Francis paid tribute to slain journalists around the world, when he addressed the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in the Vatican Iast Saturday.
“Freedom of the press and of expression is an important indicator of the state of a country’s health,” he said. “Let us not forget that one of the first things dictatorships do is remove freedom of the press or mask it, not leaving it free.”
During the FPA conference, FPA President Patricia Thomas spoke on many journalists killed, imprisoned, wounded, or threatened in their work, citing Lyra McKee who was shot dead while covering a riot in Northern Ireland, Maltese journalist Daphne C. Galizia, killed in a car bomb in 2017, and, most recently, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Reporters without Borders which keeps a close watch on how media men fare around the world said 94 were killed in 2018. Afghanistan was the most dangerous country for journalists in that year with 15 killed, followed by Syria with 11; Mexico, 9; India, 6; and the United States, 6. The Philippines which used to be among the top five most dangerous countries had only three in 2018 – two radiomen in Dumaguete City and Albay and a newsman in Panabo City in Davao del Norte.
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) President Philippe Leruth said: “The most shocking statistic is that we know that nine of 10 journalist murders remain unpunished in the world.” IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger added that the 94 deaths recorded in 2018 are “a sad reminder that the safety of journalists will remain elusive as long as countries boasting institutions which should be enforcing the law are paralyzed by corruption and incompetence in the face of an unrelenting assault on journalism.”
This is the state of press freedom in the world today and Pope Francis paid tribute to all slain journalists in his address before the Foreign Press Association in last Saturday. At the same time, he called on journalists not to lose interest and to continue writing about tragedies even when they no longer make headlines. He was referring to the Rohingya Muslims who had to flee Buddhist Myanmar and the members of the minority Yazidi religion who have been killed by the Islamic State in Iraq.
The Philippine press continues to be in the forefront of this worldwide movement to report on situations causing suffering of all kinds in the world, in the face of the efforts of many governments to cover up irregularities causing the suffering.
Pope Francis has now added his voice to this cause, which we welcome in the hope that it will lead to a more open, more caring, and more just world for all people, especially the more helpless ones among us today.