UNESCO’s report on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development presented in Morocco

UNESCO’s 2014 World Trends Report on freedom of expression and media development was presented on 14 November 2014 in Rabat, Morocco at the 3rd international conference on “the evaluation of media freedom” organized by the Moroccan Centre for Studies and Research in Social Sciences and sponsored by the Ministry of Communication. This year’s theme was “Freedom of media and the institutional, legal and judicial guarantees.”

The conference was attended by 110 participants including Moroccan journalists, academics, governmental officials, and representatives of international organizations such as Freedom House, Reporters without Borders, International Federation of Journalists, Amnesty International, Free Press Unlimited, as well as media researchers from Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon, Senegal, Finland, Portugal and Spain.

During the presentation, UNESCO discussed the four dimensions of press freedom: freedom, pluralism, independence and safety of media professionals, together with gender equality, as the key components to consider when addressing legal and institutional guarantees for media freedom. UNESCO recognizes that for effective press freedom a media environment that is legally free, open to public debate and provides for pluralism and independence is essential.

The Moroccan National Press Syndicate commented that UNESCO’s conceptual framework for press freedom, namely, its Media Development Indicators is a useful reference tool for the analysis of press freedom in Morocco.

In his opening remarks, the Moroccan Minister of Communication, Mustapha Khalfi, called the conference a space for open and free dialogue allowing new ideas and proposals for the media reform in Morocco. He affirmed that: “The objective of the conference is to promote press freedom in Morocco. We cannot conceive democracy without a free press.”

The conference coincides with the national consultation on the Moroccan draft press code, which was made public on 18 October to be adopted by the Parliament in December. A session was allocated to the draft press code during which UNESCO was invited to comment.