24 avril 1965 24 avril 1965


Droits des journalistes...

2 MAY 2014

FAJ Calls on AU and African Governments to Address Challenges Faced by African Journalists, Ahead of May 3 Event

As the World Press Freedom Day is being celebrated on May 3rd, across the globe, the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) today called on the African Union and African Governments in particular, to address the challenges that journalists and media workers faced in the execution of their noble duties. In this present milieu, most African nations are confronted with security threats, socio- economic and political turmoil, all of which add complexities to the work of journalists in packaging and disseminating information.

The media situation in the continent has brought about numerous challenges particularly in the area of security. “The consequences of these security threats on the performance of journalists in relation to their work, integrity and impartiality can only be imagined. On the other hand, official corruption and bad governance are becoming rampant in the continent; and the fight against these twin evils has no doubt gone beyond mere speechifying and has become daunting task for journalists to report on. Many media practitioners have found themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea as they battle for their survival and need to stand tall against negative tendencies in the society,” said Mohamed Garba, FAJ President.

FAJ bemoans that violence against journalists by armed militias or state agents across the continent has increased tremendously. More frustrating also is the failure on the part of most African governments to make adequate investigations into the violations of journalists’ rights and to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes against journalists. This deliberate lax attitude of governments to defend and guarantee the security of journalists and media workers has emboldened the violators to continue with their heinous acts against journalists. Thus, enhancing impunity.

FAJ would like to reiterate that most African governments have adopted freedom of expression and freedom of information legislations, most of which are enshrined in their national constitutions. On a continental level, many instruments and treaties guarantee media freedom such as the Windhoek Declaration, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.

Despite the guarantee of media freedom by these instruments, the reality lived by journalists in the continent is altogether different. Media freedom suffers under the pressure of repressive laws, the absence of security for journalists who experience continuous attacks and assaults, harassments and intimidations as well as arson attacks on media houses and the seizure and willful destruction of media equipment. “Violations of media freedom and freedom of expression take place in every corner of the continent and have similar pattern of discouraging journalists to report freely and independently. From Somalia to South Sudan, from Equatorial Guinea to Eritrea and from Morocco to Madagascar, the dangers to media freedom and freedom of expression are real and life threatening”, said Mohamed Garba.

The willful killing of journalists is one of the most heinous crimes committed against journalists. Such crude and cowardly killings often send chilling waves on other journalists, and have a double barrel effect of forcing such journalists into self- censorship, or at worse, silencing them completely. Year in year out, the murder of journalists has become a routine act where state and non-state players are actively involved. The prosecution and punishment for such crime rarely happen due of the lack of political will on the part of the authorities. As a result, journalists spend their time watching their back rather than fulfilling their watchdog roles to society.

It is instructive to note that a climate of impunity engenders violence. This is exactly what is happening in many African countries, where violence against journalists has become the order of the day. Countries like Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Central Africa Republic, Mali, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Congo DR, Eritrea, The Gambia, Morocco, Rwanda and South Africa are now among the front line states that condone impunity and violence against journalists in Africa.

Unresolved murder cases have piled up to unprecedented levels and serve to haunt the colleagues of murdered journalists, who are often subjected to arbitrary arrests, beatings, torture, kidnappings and intimidation both in conflict or non-conflict situations, or in politically unstable situations.

Penal codes, secrecy legislation as well as anti-terror laws are frequently being used to suppress journalists, media freedom and freedom of expression. These laws are used to convict journalists of criminal libel, defamation and slander. Critical and independent reporting of sensitive issues is often criminalized as well as other security issues or matters relating to the war against terror. As a result, investigative journalism suffers as a result of the frequent criminalization of journalistic work attempting to expose corruption, bad governance, human rights abuses and accountability issues.

While we are grappling with the cases of detained journalists in Egypt over trump up charges, just last week Ethiopia embarked on another clampdown with the arrest of three journalists and six bloggers. FAJ in this regards wish to renew its call to authorities in Egypt and Ethiopia as well as all other countries that are holding media personnel in custody to without further delay release all detained journalists immediately and unconditionally and to withdraw all charges against them.

FAJ underscores the importance for African states to develop policies that will mitigate the risks faced by journalists in exercising their duties. This includes taking practical measures to ensure the safety and security of journalists through concrete action, strong commitment, and law enforcement.

FAJ recalls that journalists are among the most poorly paid professionals in Africa, making journalism a profession in which one can hardly make a decent living. Journalists face uncertainty and work in precarious conditions, as they have to move from one media house to another in search of decent wages. News media organizations exploit journalists, particularly reporters, correspondents and women journalists. Minimum salaries paid to journalists are not enshrined in legislation and the majority of working journalists do not even have work contracts.

In this regard, they do not enjoy the minimum benefits stipulated in the labor laws. Journalists work long hours, 7 days a week, in hazardous conditions and with a total lack of social security with many of them earning below the poverty line of 1 US dollar per day.

African governments must step up as a priority the need to guarantee the freedom of expression and of the press as well as the safety and security of journalists and the citizenry in general. Democracy, good governance and the rule of law cannot strive in any country without the effective functioning of the media that propels divergent views and gives a voice to the voiceless.

16:23 Écrit par mbolocameroon dans Droits de l'Homme, Mediascopie | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook | |  Imprimer | Pin it! | | |

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