UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said without a free press, democracy cannot survive and without freedom of expression, there is no freedom.
"On Democracy Day and every day, let us join forces to secure freedom and protect the rights of all people, everywhere," he said in a message marking the International Day of Democracy that falls on September 15.
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the International Day of Democracy.
"Yet across the world, democracy is backsliding," said the UN chief, adding that civic space is shrinking.
He said distrust and disinformation are growing, and polarization is undermining democratic institutions.
"Now is the time to raise the alarm. Now is the time to reaffirm that democracy, development, and human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing," Guterres said.
Now is the time to stand up for the democratic principles of equality, inclusion, and solidarity, he said.
"This year, we focus on a cornerstone of democratic societies – free, independent, and pluralistic media," Guterres said.
Attempts to silence journalists are growing more brazen by the day – from verbal assault to online surveillance and legal harassment – especially against women journalists, he mentioned.
Media workers face censorship, detention, physical violence, and even killings – often with impunity, said the UN chief.
"Such dark paths inevitably lead to instability, injustice and worse," he mentioned