As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day on 03 May, the Palau Media Council takes this opportunity to honour the fundamental principles of freedom of expression, which serve as the bedrock for all other human rights.

This year’s theme, “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights,” is particularly relevant in today’s world and the Palau media landscape.

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.

Despite the pronouncement of the government as a democratic society, it has failed to fully protect press freedom through a lack of transparency and a downward spiral engagement with the mainstream media.

The freedom of information encompasses the liberty to express criticism. This empowers citizens to make informed decisions while choosing their leaders, and also motivates leaders to fulfill their responsibilities with proficiency and integrity, knowing they will be held accountable to their people for what they say and do.

The unrestricted flow of information and the ability to express oneself freely is crucial for both personal and collective advancement.

Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of a democratic society, and its protection is essential for the well-being of every citizen.

It enables us to share ideas, challenge beliefs, and participate in public discourse. Without it, we cannot hold those in power accountable, expose injustices, or push for progress.

As we reflect on the importance of freedom of expression, we must also recognize the challenges that journalists and media professionals face in exercising this fundamental right.

Press freedom is under attack globally, with journalists facing harassment, intimidation, and violence for simply doing their job. We must do all we can to ensure that journalists can operate freely and safely, without fear of retribution.

The Palau Media Council reaffirms its commitment to defending 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.

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.