We, the participants to the NGO Forum in preparation of the 47th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
Deeply concerned about the state of freedom of expression and freedom of information is considerably deteriorating in Africa;
Worried about the grave reality that Somalia is the most dangerous place in Africa today for journalists and other media workers, and that since January 2009 ten journalists have been killed in targeted attacks;
Concerned about the incessant emasculation of media and journalists rights and to the freedom of expression in Uganda where the government authorities have continued to violate the rights of journalists and the media in the past two years;
Deeply disheartened and disturbed by the situation of freedom of expression and the journalists rights in Eritrea that take the pride in jailing and detaining journalists incommunicado since 2001;
Very depressed about increasingly repressive situation of journalists in Cameroon and Zimbabwe that threatens enjoyment of fundamental human rights of freedom of expression which led grave violations of free press in Zimbabwe and Cameroon;
Concerned about the suppression of freedom of expression and press freedom in Tunisia despite the highly elaborate legislative and institutional architecture in the country;
Further deeply concerned about repression of the freedom to express, choose, impart and share on religious believes;
We urge the commission to:
1. Express its solidarity with the hapless Somali journalists and to condemn, in no uncertain terms, the continued and perilous violence against journalists and other media workers in Somalia.
2. Call upon the government of Uganda to demonstrate its stated commitment to freedom of expression, democracy and to immediately end attacks on the right to freedom of expression and of the press including the ban on media houses and live radio debate programmes.
3. Put pressure on the Gambian government to produce journalist Chief Ibrahim Manneh and to investigate the killing of Deyda Hydara
4. Demand member States to abolish all draconian laws that curtail the right to freedom of expression and of the press as stipulated in the African charter, to encourage member States to immediately enact laws of freedom of information and to decriminalise all media offenses.
5. Play the leader’s role by taking appropriate actions that would lead to the unconditional and immediate release of the journalists from prisons in Eritrea.
6. Demand Cameroonian authorities to immediately end attacks on the media and provide an independent and reliable report on the death of Bibi Ngota who died in pre-trail detention.
7. Implement the recommendations on Zimbabwe that was adopted by the commission during the 46th session requesting the special rapportuer on freedom of expression to conduct a fact-finding and investigative mission to Zimbabwe and to repeal article 79 and 80 of Access to information and protection of privacy act (AIPPA).
8. Convene a high-level panel on the protection of journalists in Africa in the 48th session of the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights.
9. Conduct a fact finding mission to Tunisia for an objective and documented assessment of the situation of a pluralistic and independent media, freedom of association, the independence of the judiciary and the detention of prisoners of opinion.
10. Put pressure on all governments and armed groups to adhere and respect their international obligations to bring to an end the culture of impunity, to foster lasting peace and the rule of law, and to bring to an end the fear of journalists to be killed, tortured, injured, kidnapped and being held hostage, especially in conflict areas.
Done at Banjul, May 10th, 2010