On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, UNESCO, in association with Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), along with media partners The Statesman and Go News, organised ‘Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies’.

The report ‘New Fronts, Brave Voices: Press Freedom in South Asia 2016-17’, produced jointly by UNESCO and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) was launched on the occasion.

The Press Freedom Report for South Asia (PFRSA) is the definitive annual review of the media environment and issues related to media freedom and the safety of journalists in eight South Asian countries.

The welcome address was presented by Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and Unesco Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka, followed by the launch of the report and an overview presented by Ujjwal Acharya, South Asia Coordinator, IFJ. There was then an interactive Q & A round.

In the second section, the report ‘Anatomy of Virtual Curfews: Human Rights vs National Security’ was launched. It was produced by DEF under the Impact project, supported by the European Union and the Association of Progressive Communication under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). The report highlights issues related to the infringement of fundamental and human rights on account of arbitrary shutdowns of the internet and networks.

There was a discussion by an eminent panel comprising Apar Gupta, CoFounder, Internet Freedom Foundation, Geeta Seshu, Member, Media Freedom Committee and Consulting Editor, The Hoot, V ikram Tiwathia, Deputy Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India and Osama Manzar, Founder and Director, DEF. The session was moderated by Pankaj Pachauri, Founder, Go News. The event concluded with the screening of the film ‘Velvet Revolution’.