Sunday, May 15, 2011

Crimes against African journalists remain unpunished

FAJ workshop Addis Ababa, Sept. 2-3. 2010
The President of the Federation of African Journalists, FAJ Omar Faruk Osman has exhorted Members States of African Commission to make the safety and protection of African journalists a top priority, especially in armed conflicts.
Faruk, the representative of Eastern Africa Journalist Association (EAJA) was presenting a paper on the “safety and protection of African Journalists” at the 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul on May 6, 2011.
He lamented that across Africa, crimes against Journalists remains unpunished and State Parties to the African Charter should set up mechanisms to ensure that journalists are protected from physical violence and intimidation.
He told the Commission that the state of freedom of expression and of the press is increasingly deteriorating in Africa. Journalists and other media workers continue to be subjected to dangerous and targeted attacks on the continent, including threats, physical violence and assassinations in situation of armed conflict and other violent as well as oppressive circumstances.
  Saïd Kobret (Pdt Journalistes tanger), Omar Faruk Osman, Jim Boumelha
“Journalist are victimized and their rights deliberately violated for carrying out their daily work, promoting people’s human rights to know and discharging their mission as watchdog of social and political life, holding accountable public personalities and institutions,” he said.
The FAJ President, who is also the Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists, NUSOJ, said from Senegal to Somalia, and from Egypt to Angola, attacks on journalist have reached new heights and are similar in their nature, intensity and severity.
According to him, journalists continue to be at the risk of death in Somalia, which remains Africa’s most dangerous place to be a journalist. In other countries, brutal intimidation of journalists, targeting news sources directly and imposing restrictive rules have become tools of choice for governments eager to control the flow of information.
He said in Zimbabwe, the three coalition partners have delayed their pledge for media reform and respect for journalists’ rights and have instead, intensified their attacks against journalists ahead of a referendum and elections.
In Cameroon and Senegal, legal insecurity put journalists at tremendous personal risk and Burundi has recently emerged as the only country in Africa prosecuting a journalist for treason because of what he has written; a charge punishable with a life sentence.
Eritrea earned its spurs as the worst jailer of journalists in Africa after continuing to hold over 30 journalists in jail without being charged, some for nearly a decade and refusing to give any information to their colleagues and families on their health, whereabouts and legal status.
“If journalist is dying today for his work in an African prison, he or she would be an Eritrean journalist. Urgent action must be taken to free these journalists now,” he said.
FAJ President (pix FAJ - facebook page)
In The Gambia, he said despite the recent talks between journalists and the government, the tension and climate of fear still hunts journalists.
He added that the danger of impunity and the lack of safety which journalist confront daily have a tremendous impact on freedom of expression and deprive people of their right to know. Criminalization of journalism is incompatible with international human rights law on freedom of expression.
Finally, he urged the African Commission to protect the human rights of all journalists and give full support to the work of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, within the framework of the implementation of regional and international treaties, resolutions and plans of action. Source - The Voice

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