WPFD. Mijatovic praise Ossigeno for rememberig journalists slain

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Opening a new website dedicated to all 30 Italian journalists killed since 1960, to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, is a particularly moving event

Dunia Mijatovic, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, sent this message to Ossigeno per l’Information on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day which takes place on 3 May 2010

Free and quality journalism is a precious asset of democracy. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us – if it were necessary – of the essential role that journalists and media professionals play by providing reliable information, countering disinformation and keeping decision makers accountable to the public.

This years celebrations of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May will be different in form but not in substance. We must take this opportunity to pause and express gratitude to journalists and media professionals for their invaluable work for the public good. We must recognise the sacrifices they and their families make to do their job. Because in normal times, and even more so in times of crisis like the current one, journalists provide us with one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to take decisions relevant for our lives: reliable information.

And they often do so at the cost of intimidation, threats, retaliations and sometimes, of their lives. Memorials to remember journalists murdered over the past ten years list hundreds of names, but all too often little is known about who each of them was.

Ossigenos event to commemorate World Press Freedom Day by launching a new website dedicated to all 30 Italian journalists killed since 1960 is a particularly moving one. It is not only a tribute to messengers of truth: it is a unique opportunity to see the human beings behind the professionals. For each truth-seeker killed, Ossigeno’s website tells the story of that person, of what he or she was investigating – and of what has been done to punish those responsible for their murders.

This archive, together with the wall panel depicting all their faces that Ossigeno has prepared lets us discover their lives and shares with us their dreams, interrupted abruptly and prematurely. It also introduces us to their families and helps us understand what we have lost with their murders.

It is impossible not to be deeply moved by Benedetta Tobagi’s account of growing up without her father Walter, and not to be inspired by the example of civic commitment displayed by Peppino Impastato. Is it possible not to feel angered by the lack of accountability for the murder of Ilaria Alpi? Or not to understand from these stories the urgency of ensuring journalists’ safety and freedom to inform the public, even when this information disturbs those in power?

We have a duty to keep the memory of these courageous persons alive. We must take up their torch and do our bit to enlighten the dark corners where corruption, crime and politics converge. This is particularly important for future generations of journalists, but also for the current and future generations of citizens.

Thank you Ossigeno for keeping the spotlight on their lives. They are no longer physically with us, but they remain a model to all those who want to defend truth and justice

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