Programs and Events
A free press is a core value of the United States – Ambassador McCulley (May 3, 2012)
Abuja | May 03, 2012
Abuja, Nigeria – U.S. Ambassador Terence McCulley has again emphasized the public’s right to know the activities of its government as a measure of accountability and good governance. He said free, independent media satisfy the public’s need to know what affects their well-being and quality of life.
The Ambassador made these comments at this year’s World Press Freedom Day observance jointly organized at the Bolingo Hotel, Abuja by UNESCO, U.S. Embassy, Federal Ministries of Information and Education, Nigeria Union of Journalists and the National Library, where the Charge d’Affaires of the British High Commission in Nigeria, Mr. Giles Lever, also spoke on Britain’s support and belief in press freedom.
Ambassador McCulley said the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa and the role of the social media during the anti fuel subsidy protests in Nigeria must have impacted the development of this year’s World Press Freedom Day’s theme – New Voices: Media Freedom helping to transform societies.
He said freedom of the press is a core element of democratic governance because it is through free media that the people can also let their governments know their opinion on policies and actions.
He emphasized that dialogue between governments and the governed is most effective in an environment where all feel free and safe to express their views. “Unfortunately, in many parts of the world the media still face a great challenge in the discharge of its duties,” he lamented.
The Ambassador said the United States strongly condemns the April 26 attacks on two offices of the newspaper “This Day” in Abuja and Kaduna, Nigeria. He also remembered the recent death of two journalists covering the crisis in Syria.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those who were killed and injured. This attack is not only on innocent people but on free speech itself. Lawless violence and intimidation has no place in a democracy."
Ambassador McCulley praised the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act in Nigeria, adding that “for the government, providing information about its activities is a critical component for an enduring democracy.”
He said the United States understands the public has a right to know the activities of its government because it promotes accountability and by extension good governance. “Where information is scarce, conjecture and rumor have a field day. When people can ask for and receive information about issues important to them they become more actively involved in their governance,” Ambassador McCulley remarked.
U.N. Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director-General Ms. Irina Bokova in a joint statement condemned the attacks on some Nigerian media, adding "As media moves online, more online journalists, including bloggers, are being harassed, attacked, and killed for their work."
They called on States, professional media and non-governmental organizations everywhere to join forces with the United Nations to promote online and offline freedom of expression in accordance with internationally accepted principles. Freedom of expression they said, is a pillar of individual rights, a foundation for healthy societies and a force for social transformation.
World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to raise the flag in the fight to advance media freedom.