Abolish all laws that restrict media freedom – African leaders urged
The African Editors Forum has called on African governments to abolish all laws that infringe on media freedom and recommit to the 1991 Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.
The Forum also demanded the immediate release of journalists jailed for their professional activities and allow journalists forced into exile to return to their countries.
“On this day, our thoughts go out to the many journalists and editors who are languishing in jails across the continent, simply for doing their work. One of these is Ahmed Abba, a journalist in Cameroon,” the media body said in a statement on Wednesday marking World Press Freedom Day.
It expressed concern about the state of media freedom in Zambia (where three journalists have appeared in court and charged with spurious crimes), Cameroon (where 7 journalists are on trial), South Sudan, Republic of Congo, Uganda, Djibouti, Burundi Nigeria, Mali and Eritrea.
“African states must promote the highest standards of press freedom in furtherance of the principles proclaimed in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other protocols and provide constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press,” the Forum added.
On the occasion of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has called for an end to the crackdown on journalists who he described as a “voice of the voiceless.”
The international day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991.