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Pope  Francis pays  tribute to journalists



E CARTOON MAY 05, 2019bPope 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.

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