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Journalists in Africa build unity around standards and freedom

30 March 2010

The second continental congress of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ has called for a stronger and more united journalist movement in the Africa. The congress was attended by the leaders of journalists' organisations from across the continent.

The congress of the African regional organisation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in Harare was the first summit of journalists organised in Zimbabwe since the country's current political and economic crisis.

Delegates adopted a three-year programme of priority activities covering decent work; a safe and secure working environment for journalists and promoting ethical journalism and media accountability.

Jim Boumelha, IFJ president and NUJ representative, said:

"Our African affiliates consolidated their efforts to maintain unity and promote and defend decent work and better working conditions for African journalists. The congress was a true manifestation of the commitment of African journalists unions to build strong and effective unions for working journalists, address safety issues and improve professional standards."

Jim Boumelha hailed the achievements of the Federation of African Journalists since its first working congress of November 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya. In particular, he pointed to its efforts to improve the working conditions of African journalists and to defend press freedom.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, said:

"It was inspiring to see the work being done on the ground by our sister unions across Africa and hear about the strides they are making, often in the face of enormous political and economic pressures.
"Holding the meeting in Harare was a great act of solidarity by African affiliates to their colleagues in Zimbabwe. It also gave me a great opportunity to meet with journalists involved in the NUJ's ongoing project with the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, to find out first hand the developments that have taken place since the NUJ mission last August.
"Whilst the economic situation has stabilised, the political pressures on journalists remain and the government has yet to deliver on its commitment to open up the media to new operators and to repeal the repressive media laws that restrict the ability of journalists to carry out their jobs. Until words are replaced with action, the working reality for many journalists in Zimbabwe remains incredibly challenging."

Omar Faruk Osman from Somalia was re-elected president of FAJ. He recalled the long journey taken by journalists' unions and associations in Africa to become the authoritative voice for journalists in the continent, speaking out for their professional and social rights and in defence of press freedom.

"Social injustice, dreadful working conditions, unscrupulous media companies and repression of freedom of the press are major hurdles journalists in Africa have to confront day in day out. We applaud our unions for such a successful congress where fundamental decisions were taken to strengthen their struggles on behalf of journalists in the continent."

Tags: , faj, summit, zimbabwe, ifj, ethics, solidarity, africa, somalia, kenya, zuj, working conditions, safety, press freedom