|13% and 0.3%. The percentage of the world population with access to free media and the percentage of global aid dedicated to media funding. Good news then that the UK and Canada are hosting a conference on media freedom starting tomorrow, drawing much needed attention to the repression on independent journalism. Nishant Lalwani of Luminate (TAI member and sponsor of the conference) lays out the importance of greater protectionsand lays down a challenge to the international community to create a new global fund to support media groups – a feasibility study is underway.
Among the cases Nishant cites is that of courageous investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was murdered for her exposes of corruption in Malta. To better understand the risks she ran and why, listen to the new BBC drama adaptation of her life and work. What role does a free press play? Laxmi Parthasarathy explains, drawing on the work of Global Press.
Meanwhile, curbs on media are among the factors making minorities increasingly vulnerablein Pakistan. Civil society groups there may want to compare notes with those in Poland, who have also faced growing restrictions since the right-wing populist Law and Justice Party came to power. How to respond? There are some approaches showing promise. Magdalena Pekacka emphasizes the importance of solidarity among CSOs, as well as finding ways to work with more progressive local government actors. We may see signs of the latter already in Istanbul and Ankara following the wins for opposition leaders Ekrem Imamoglu and Mansur Yavas. They are already turning to transparency to build trust with voters – and they seem to be tapping latent demand for public accountability. How else to explain around 300,000 people tuning into to watch the livestream of a public tender for the purchase of steel pipes for the capital’s sewer system at the end of June? “Citizens will see that the taxes paid to the municipality will not be squandered,” notes Yavas in Ankara.
Yavas’ push to connect revenues to spending in the public eye would have gone down very well at the Addis Tax Initiative conference in Berlin last week. The role of civil society and the public writ large was more to the fore – not least through release of some new TAI sponsored research (see Spotlight below). Beyond that, TAI was interested to see growing recognition and discussion of linking taxes to spending – important to help justify the push for more revenues, and also new attention to equitable outcomes from the tax system. Why does that matter? Remind yourself of the importance from the blog we featured last week. The organizations co-authoring that blog will have been intrigued to see a new report also making the connection to the SDGs – ECLAC’s Fiscal Panorama of Latin America and the Caribbean 2019.