Statement on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2021 “Media Freedom is Freedom of the People”

Today, 3 May, marks the annual World Press Freedom Day, an occasion designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to emphasize on basic rights of the press, including the rights to present facts in a safe and free manner. 

The Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association and the Society for Online News Providers are committed to the aforementioned principle. We wish to see the media, regardless of their platforms, upholding the principles of freedom and journalist ethics in order to keep the public informed with well rounded and valuable news information. 

The 30th World Press Freedom Day coincides with the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, while different political mass movements battle with each other through many social aspects – the result is an ideological battleground that pits the old culture against the new. 

At same time, Thai media freedom finds itself under the 2005 Emergency Decree, which was imposed with a stated aim of curbing the spread of COVID-19. But the law also exposes the media to potential interference from the state power, who may attempt to intimidate the workings of the media and infringe on their constitutional rights to freedom of expression. 

Therefore, the state must ensure the free dissemination of information and the safety of media personnel during their coverage of political gatherings. Members of the media are not belligerent to any party in the conflict. They must not be targeted by any side. 

On the occasion of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, we would like to present our joint proposals to all relevant parties:

We call on the government and all political factions to respect the safety of members of the press working in the field. They must cease all acts of violence on the media, because media freedom is also the freedom of the people. 

We call on members of the public to exercise their discretion when receiving news information in order to discern fake news and disinformation. They are also encouraged to exercise their rights to scrutinize the media and speak out when they encounter journalistic malpractices.

We call on all media establishments to carry out their duty by focusing on the roots of the problems, presenting possible solutions, committing to ethical guidelines and refraining from inciting hatred, in accordance with the principle of “freedom with responsibility.” We’d like to also extend our moral support to members of the press as they navigate through political conflicts and dangers of COVID-19 outbreak.  

We affirm that media freedom is a key pillar of democratic regime with the King as Head of State. We will oppose and reject, to the best of our ability, any actions that infringe on freedom of the expression for the press and the public. 

Signed on 3 May 2021 

by the Thai Journalists Association, 

the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association 

and the Society for Online News Providers