Palau Media Council celebrates World Press Freedom Day themed, "Shaping a future of rights: Freedom of Expression as a driver for all other human rights."

As the world marks World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the Palau Media Council (PMC) is stressing the importance of press freedom and the right to freedom of expression.

“We believe that free and independent media is crucial for promoting transparency, accountability, and democracy in our society, “the PMC said in a statement

“On this World Press Freedom Day, let us continue to champion the values of freedom of expression and work towards a future where it is respected and protected for all,” they added.

To celebrate the event, the council also hosted a round table discussion with special guest former President Johnson Toribiong and members of the group reflecting on the status of media freedom in Palau. 

Leilani Reklai, chair of the media council said that there continues to be stifling   and censoring freedom of expression in the Pacific countries “under the guise of culture and traditions, religious beliefs and controlling political narratives.”

 “There seems to be controlling government narratives, meaning sometimes the government controls the narratives by withholding certain information and only releasing certain information because they want us to think a certain way and those are some of the challenges, “she said.

One of the original framers of the Palau Constitution, Johnson Toribiong explained the Article IV of the Palau Constitution, which specifically protects the freedom of the press. 

“Media have a very important responsibility to the public.  It may be difficult but you must ask the tough questions. Your code of ethics demands you seek the truth.  The truth is your greatest defense,” charged Toribiong.

Kambes Kesolei, Tia Belau editor said that most of the time, journalists in a small community like Palau has the potential to resort to self-censorship to avoid conflicts with members of their families or clan.

But despite this challenge in a tight-knit community, the public supports good journalism, and the media should also ensure to practice journalism based on facts.

The council also said, “Media freedom is under threat when the public is no longer receiving unbiased news and information and media freedom is undermined when the government limits the press access to information.”

It also urges the government to protect the media and freedom of expression by ensuring transparency and continuous engagement with the mainstream media.

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