DUBLIN, Ireland - The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has called on governments across the Middle East and North Africa to seize a historic opportunity to recognise and support the essential role a free and independent press must play in the democratisation process.
Representatives of the publishing industry must be involved at every level of the media reform process, while governments - old and new - should respect the role of a free press in the democratic advancement of their societies, said a resolution issued by the Board of WAN-IFRA, meeting Friday in Dublin, Ireland.
Through its long-standing engagement in Tunisia, and following recent press freedom missions to Egypt and Yemen, WAN-IFRA has witnessed the demand for sweeping change that has led to unprecedented reforms in parts of the region.
The role of the media in safeguarding the right to freedom of expression underlines the importance of a free press in emerging democratic societies.
In countries where the struggle for reform continues, the independent press has proven a vital tool in linking those who defy oppression with a worldwide audience.
With the fall of regimes in Tunis and Cairo and the spread of pro-democracy movements throughout the region, the media has faced great risks and suffered tragic consequences. WAN-IFRA therefore reaffirms its commitment to strengthening and supporting the independent press in this crucial period of transition in what is a unique chapter in history.