By Peter Uzoho
In commemoration of this year’s edition of the World Press Freedom Day, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has called on owners of media organisations to provide special protective equipment for journalists covering the novel COVID-19 pandemic to prevent them from contracting the disease.
The NGE also demanded for the immediate release of all detained journalists in Nigeria and all over the world.
While congratulating journalists in Nigeria and across the world on this year’s event themed: “Journalism Without Fear or Favour”, the NGE, however commiserated with families and friends of their departed.
The guild in a statement issued yesterday jointly signed by its President, Mr. Mustapher Isah and its Social and Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ken Ogbeche, said the special day acted as a reminder to governments, of the need to respect their commitment to Press Freedom while also providing an opportunity for media professionals to reflect on, and renew their commitment to best journalism practice and ethics.
NGE said: “The Guild urges media owners to provide special protective equipment for these journalists, in order for them not to be infected.
“World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference.
“This special day acts as a reminder to governments, of the need to respect their commitment to Press Freedom. Besides, it also provides an opportunity for media professionals to reflect on, and renew their commitment to the best practices that promote professionalism, ethical reporting and public-spirited advocacy.
“Journalists across the world have had to face daunting challenges and dangers in the discharge of their duties with some having to pay the supreme price, while others have been harassed and jailed.
“For instance, the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a non-governmental organisation, says 55 journalists across 23 countries have died from COVID-19 infection between March and April, 2020. This is aside the six journalists killed by state actors this year alone across the globe, and about 250 more languishing in different prisons and detention centres.
“The body of editors therefore, demands the immediate release of all detained journalists in Nigeria and all over the world”.
It advised journalists to adhere to the COVID-19 preventive measures stipulated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) In addition to observing these protocols and use their various media platforms to enlighten the publics on the need to observe these protocols and any other precautionary measures.