Speak up! It’s a Human Right!

This article is authored by Yvet Maassen*

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


The right to freedom of opinion and expression is often under threat, especially for the press. The World Press Freedom Index, published every year by Reporters without Borders, evaluates the level of freedom available to the media in 180 countries. Since 2002, there has been a decline in the indicator evaluating this human right. News helps to spread ideas, inform people and and equip them with knowledge to form and challenge their opinions.

In 2016, while working as an intern at a news radio station in the Netherlands, I vividly recall the day a journalist called our office from Mosul, Iraq. At the time, the Iraqi forces were working together with Kurdish and Western alliances against ISIS. As the phone line got distorted, the journalist described how he had just escaped a bomb placed in a riding vehicle. I noticed his answers were on repeat, which meant ISIS was hijacking our phone call. Luckily, I was able to verify he was fine in a second phone call.

Without journalists like him, who are willing to risk their own lives to report the news, we would not be able to know, judge or challenge our opinions. In 2017, more than 50 journalists were killed, excluding seven citizen journalists. Over 300 journalists, citizen journalists and people working in media organizations were imprisoned worldwide because of their job, limiting not only their right of opinion but also the right of the general public to be informed.

I think it is important to know our Human Rights and to be vocal when these are undermined. And what better way to do this than to celebrate the International Human Rights Day today? I know I will!

Want to take action? Join the world’s biggest human rights event! Every December, Amnesty supporters across the globe write millions of letters for those whose basic human rights are being attacked.  Learn more by visiting: https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/write-for-rights/


*Yvet is an Ambassador for One Young World The Hague 2018. She’s the author of a song, City Lights, on the difficulty of press freedom. Follow Yvet and other One Young World The Hague Ambassadors in their journey to One Young World 2018 in The Hague (17-20 October) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or www.oneyoungworldthehague.com