By Stephen Gbadamosi
Senator Sharafadeen Alli has said press freedom is essential for upholding democratic values and promoting transparency.
The lawmaker representing Oyo South Senatorial District said this in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Akeem Abas, and made available to journalists on Thursday in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
It was in commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, a United Nation’s (UN)-recognised international day observed annually on November 2.
Alli, the Senate Committee Chairman on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said it was imperative to express solidarity with all journalists and join them in the fight against any form of violence or harassment they encounter.
He stressed the need to address issues of impunity while ensuring those who commit crimes against journalists are brought to justice.
“As we commemorate the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, it is crucial for us to recognise the significant role that journalists play in society.
“It is disheartening to note that journalists around the world continue to face threats, harassment and violence, which hinders their ability to carry out their work fearlessly.
“On this day, let us recommit ourselves to upholding the freedom of the press and protecting those who play a vital role in our society,” he said.
Alli added that journalists were the watchdogs who brought forth vital information for a functioning democracy and held those in power accountable, stressing that conducive environment ought to be created for journalists to operate freely without fear of reprisals.
“Today, we honour and remember journalists who have lost their lives in the pursuit of truth. Their sacrifice is a stark reminder of the risks faced by those who bring us the news.
“It is our responsibility as lawmakers to enact and enforce laws that safeguard the rights of journalists and bring an end to impunity.
“This involves strengthening legal frameworks that protect press freedom and ensure the safety of journalists,” he said.
He added that journalists should be able to investigate and report on issues of public interest without intimidation, noting that the society as well as other stakeholders ought to work towards creating a culture that respects and value the important work done by journalists.
The lawmaker charged government as well as international bodies to collaborate towards ensuring the safety and protection of journalists.
“We must prioritise efforts to investigate and prosecute those responsible for crimes committed against journalists. This will send a strong message that attacks on the press will not be tolerated.
“It is our duty to ensure that journalists are empowered to carry out their work without fear, while those who seek to silence them are held accountable,” he stated.
Alli then expressed solidarity with journalists, calling for the creation of an environment where they can operate without impunity and contribute to the betterment of our societies.