World Press Freedom Day-‘Freedom of expression comes with responsibility’


03-May-2013

Mr Afif“While the freedom of expression is enshrined in our Constitution, it is important to remember that this freedom comes with responsibility,” says SMC chairperson Ibrahim Afif in the message, the full text of which reads:

“As the media world marks the 20th anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek on 3rd May 1993, here at home the Seychelles Media Commission has produced its first national Code of Conduct for the media.  It is the result of deliberations in workshops organised last year with all interested stakeholders to attempt to produce a consensus document. 

“While invariably not everyone will deep down agree with every single clause, nevertheless the SMC is confident that media practitioners will welcome it as a move in the right professional direction.

“Even in more established democracies, sometimes hailed as beacons of press freedom, where self-regulation has been the norm for media houses, the practice has now come into question. 
“Even the most conservative politicians have pronounced themselves in favour of a body that will oversee the press as they have realised that self-regulation as the ideal solution has not proven to be the most appropriate.

“This year’s UN theme for World Press Freedom Day is SAFE TO SPEAK: Securing Freedom Expression in all Media.  I think we will all acknowledge that while the sentiments expressed in the theme are laudable, the reality on the ground in many places around the world is far removed from the practical application of this theme.

“I would like to take this opportunity however to make one appeal to some sections of the national media. While the freedom of expression is enshrined in our Constitution, it is important to remember that this freedom comes with responsibility.  In this context I have found it sad that some people who do not subscribe to any particular religious philosophy spend so much time and energy in belittling or ridiculing those who advocate or practise a particular religion or faith.  This, to me, goes against the principles of religious freedom. While it is perfectly acceptable to remain an atheist, it is an abuse of press freedom to publicly ridicule believers in the same way as believers should refrain from condemning those who are not religiously-inclined.  Let us respect each other and exercise our freedom to express ourselves in a manner befitting its total concept.

“Generally, I feel there is room for improvement for the media nationally to exercise media freedom more responsibly. If we apply the principles in our new Code of Conduct, we shall go a long way in meeting our objective of respect for each other while expressing ourselves freely, truthfully and responsibly.

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