A network of African freedom of expression and media development organisations, African Freedom of Expression Exchange, has called for an end to impunity in crimes against African journalists.
The network stated this in a statement issued to the press on Tuesday and signed by Edetaen Ojo, Chairperson of AFEX’s Steering Committee, who is also the Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda after it has held its seventh General meeting in Berlin and the network stressed that attacks on African journalists curtails the freedom of expression and it further urged the government to put in place “monitoring and reporting mechanisms at the national and regional levels”.
It stated: “Members of AFEX resolved to increase awareness about the need for African governments to adopt or put in place aimed at promoting the safety of journalists’ situation on the continent and the overall improvement of the freedom of expression situation in Africa.
“increasing use of network disruptions or internet shutdowns to stifle critical voices and public debates in general in various African countries, including Chad, where social media platforms have been shut down since March 28, 2018.
“Other countries that have recently resorted to the use of network disruptions or Internet shutdowns, include: the DRC, Gabon, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
“There have also been increased reports of attacks against internet users.”
At the end of the meeting, members of the network unanimously resolved to: “denounce the attacks on and violations of the rights of journalists, media practitioners and freedom of expression.
“The meeting also resolved to denounce attacks on activist groups and individuals across the continent, particularly in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.
“It also condemned attacks on the increasing crackdown on the media and journalists working in Mozambique, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, in recent times.
“Several journalists have been arbitrarily arrested, detained, jailed or physically assaulted for exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and access to information in these countries”.
The meeting also discussed challenges and developments around the freedom of expression and media freedom situations in Africa as well as lessons learnt during the past year. The meeting outlined strategies for addressing or responding to the existing and emerging threats to freedom of expression and media freedom on the continent. The meeting also provided an opportunity for members to share experiences about the safety of journalists’ situation in different countries and regions in Africa and how to confront widespread impunity for crimes against journalists in the respective countries or regions.
Condemn the continued detention of Mozambican journalist, Amade Abubacar who has been in detention since January 5, 2019 without charge;
Further condemn the high level of impunity for crimes perpetrated against journalists and other media practitioners in the various countries resulting in an increase in freedom of expression violations on the continent.
The Eagle Online reports that AFEX has 15 members, which include: The Collaboration on International ICT Policy in Eastern and Southern Africa and Freedom of Expression Institute.
Others are: Gambia Press Union , Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda and Institute for Media and Society.
Alos included are: ADISI-Cameroon, Africa Freedom of Information Centre, Association for Media Development in South Sudan, Center for Media Studies and Peace Building.
The rest are: International Press Centre, Journaliste en danger, Media Foundation for West Africa, Media Institute of Southern Africa, Media Rights Agenda and West African Journalists Association.