We participants to the NGO Forum in the 51st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and 25th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 14th-16 April, 2012 in Banjul, The Gambia
Conscious that Freedom of Expression plays a vital role in the effective enjoyment of all other human rights and conscious that the assuring safety and security of journalists forms an integral part of the protection of the rights to information
Horrified by the killing of four journalists in Somalia these last five months
Denouncing the increasing of physical attacks of journalists/media houses by both state agents and non-state agents in African state like Tunisia, Guinea Conakry, Angola, Sudan, Senegal, Mali, Guinea Bissau
Noting that these physical attacks are systematic in critical periods or situations such as of electoral campaigns, demonstrations, coups, etc.
Concerned by the persistence of lawsuits against journalists affiliated and human rights activists in most African countries as it is the case in Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, in Zimbabwe
Noting that these lawsuits are favoured by the existence in these countries of inadequate legal frameworks touching to freedom of expression and access to information
Further concerned by the prevalence of illegal arrests and detentions of journalists on the continent, namely in The Gambia, Côte d’Ivoire and in Eritrea where 32 journalists are still in jail with some of them reported dead
Noting that journalists continue to be seriously threaten, discredited, humiliated or impoverished in relation to their work by the state machinery using comprehensive systems to weaken or suppress independent journalism as it is the case in Ethiopia and Burundi where terrorism charges are used against journalists; in Sudan with the government security agents systematically raided private media houses after publication and confiscated large publication forcing these media houses to lose lot of revenue while at the same time prosecuting journalists . In the same vein the government is also buying out some of the private media, with a mission to entirely change the editorial line and focus. Journalists are specifically targeted and attacked with impunity while covering demonstrations.
Recalling the 2002 Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa and previous resolutions, particularly the 2011 resolution on freedom of expression, access to information and protection of journalists
We recommend the African Commission to:
- To follow up on the effective application of the Declaration and resolutions by facilitating country visits of the Special Rapporteur on FoE/AI in the countries mentioned
- To urge African states to stop killings, physical attacks, malicious and illegal lawsuits against journalists as well as the any other machinery geared towards the suppression of freedom of expression
- To urge African Union member States to engage in transforming state broadcasters into independent public media that are free from any type of interference
- To urge African states to adopt access to information laws
Done in Banjul- 16th April, 2012