Abimbola Akosile

Members of the International Press Institute (IPI) saturday urged
Germany and other EU member states, as well as the EU itself, to
embrace their role as defenders of human rights globally, including
the rights to freedom of expression and the press, amid troubling
times for media freedom.

The members made the call in a resolution adopted at their 66th annual
General Assembly during the IPI World Congress in Hamburg, Germany.
They also called for an end to pressure on independent media in Egypt,
Ethiopia, Turkey and Zambia, and for a release of journalists
imprisoned in the former three countries.

The IPI members further expressed growing concern about the state of
media freedom in Mexico, where at least seven journalists have been
murdered in 2017 alone, including acclaimed investigative journalist
Javier Valdez Cárdenas, who was gunned down on May 15 outside his
office in the state of Sinaloa.

Members noted with deep disappointment that Mexico’s federal
government has failed to stem an unabated tide of violence against the
country’s press. Dozens of journalists have lost their lives in
connection with their work in Mexico in the last decade. However, the
vast majority of these cases remain unsolved, despite the creation of
a federal special prosecutor dedicated to crimes against the press as
well as a safety mechanism to protect journalists under threat.

IPI members called on Mexican authorities to take immediate and
effective measures to ensure that all journalists operating in the
country are able to cover issues of critical public importance without
fear of violent retaliation and to swiftly bring those responsible for
crimes against journalists to justice.

In other news, members of IPI’s Executive Board re-elected American
journalist John Yearwood as the Board’s chair following yesterday’s
General Assembly. They also voted to make Ken Choi, deputy editor of
the Chosun Ilbo in South Korea, a vice chair.

Choi joins current vice chairs Ken MacQuarrie of Scotland, the BBC
director of nations and regions; Markus Spillmann, former
editor-in-chief of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in Switzerland; and Dawn
Thomas, CEO of One Caribbean Media Ltd. in Trinidad & Tobago.

Following the meeting, Yearwood said: “I’m humbled by the trust that
the IPI board and IPI members have in me and my service to the org.
The congress showed how much work is still to be done on behalf of
press freedom. I will be redoubling my efforts in the coming months
and years to help colleagues whose words are being stifled or who are
being imprisoned for their work.”

The selection of officers came after Yearwood and Daoud Kuttab,
director general of the Community Media Network in Jordan, were
re-elected to seats on the Executive Board during the General
Assembly. It also followed the election of two new Executive Board
members: Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star in
Bangladesh, and Riyad Mathew, senior assistant editor and director of
the Malayala Manorama in India.

Both Anam and Mathew expressed appreciation for the chance to serve on
IPI’s Executive Board.

“I’m absolutely honoured to be part of a famous global institution
devoted to the ideals of freedom of journalism and ethical
journalist,” Anam said. “I hope to serve my term with full
dedication.”

Mathew added: “It’s an honour to be elected as a board member of the
IPI. Press freedom has become all the more important in today’s world.
IPI has played an integral part in this issue for years. I hope to add
to this great cause in my tenure as a board member.”

Anam and Mathew succeed, respectively, Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul of
Bangladesh and N. Ravi of India, who both left the Executive Board
after serving the maximum two terms. Yearwood, Kuttab, Anam and Mathew
were each elected to serve a three-year term on the Board.