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Group tasks African governments on safety of Journalists

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By Eric Ojo

The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) has urged African governments to strive towards putting mechanism in place that will ensure the protection and safety of journalists in the continent.

The Federation said governments in Africa should as a matter of necessity ensure the safety of journalists in the interest of democracy, good governance and the rule of law, adding that governments must respect the professional and fundamental rights of journalists, media staff and associated personnel.

African Leaders

African Leaders

FAJ therefore urged African governments to properly investigate all violations on the rights of journalists and to protect their safety in order to allow them carry out their constitutional mandate.

President of the Federation, Mohammed Garba, who gave the charge while speaking during plenary at the 54th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACPHR) in Banjul, lamented that journalists in the continent continued to face untold hardship, particularly in the past six months.

“The intimidation and harassment of journalists in the continent had reached alarming proportions, while the forceful arrest and incommunicado detention of journalists on very vague and frivolous charges; the wilful destruction of media equipment and forceful closure of media houses, had become the norm in most African countries”, he said.

Garba said FAJ believes that the consistent issuing of death threats and the killing of journalists with impunity had dented quality journalism in the continent frightening journalists into self-censorship, while a good number of journalists continue to flee their homes into exile because of the fear of reprisals from governments and other non-state actors.

“It is sad to note that in Africa today, the most effective way of silencing journalists and killing the truth is by murder with impunity. The killing of journalists with impunity continues with reckless abandon. Somalia remains the deadliest country for journalists with six journalists already killed this year”, he told the Commission.

He however assured that the safety and security of journalists in the continent remains a top priority for the Federation, adding that FAJ had since 2010, made tremendous inroads in collaborating with the African Union Commission to bring to the door steps of the Assembly of Heads of State the situation concerning the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity.

He added that the Federation is presently involved in a continental campaign to lobby the African Union (AU) and its member states to support the Resolution on the Safety and Security of Journalists.

Garba led the FAJ delegation which attended the NGOs’ Forum preceding the 54th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR and seized the opportunity to make his maiden address to the Commission. The Federation has been granted observer status to ACHPR since April this year.

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