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New call for safety of journalists working in Africa

16 May 2011

The African Commission on Human and People's Rights has called on the continent's governments to act in defence of the safety of journalists and media practitioners. The NUJ has welcomed the call.

A resolution expressing concern over "the declining safety and security situation of journalists and media practitioners in some African countries", noted that "killings, attacks and kidnapping of journalists, which are contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law, are often committed in an environment of impunity."

To ensure the protection of journalists' safety, the African Commission appealed to member states of the African Union "to fulfil their obligation of preventing, and investigating crimes against journalists, as well as bringing the perpetrators to justice."

The resolution, the first ever decision of an African Union organization on the safety of journalists, also urged "all parties involved in situations of armed conflicts to respect the independence and freedom of journalists and media practitioners to exercise their profession and guarantee their safety and security in accordance with international humanitarian law."

Omar Faruk Osman, president of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), said:

"We are delighted that the African Commission on Human and People's Rights recognised the importance of the safety and protection of journalists in Africa.
"This resolution could not come at a more critical time than the present, when journalists in Africa whose safety is severely and deliberately endangered badly need protection more than ever in order to tell the story of Africa and exercise the right to free expression and free press."

The draft resolution was drawn up by the FAJ and the International Federation of Journalists in close cooperation with ARTICLE 19.

FAJ launched a campaign to promote the safety and the protection of journalists in March 2010. They engaged the African Union Commission in September 2010 and a regional event on safety of journalists was co-hosted in Addis Ababa by AUC and FAJ with the support from the UK TUC.

ITUC Spotlight on Omar Faruk Osman.

Tags: , africa, press freedom, african commission on human and people's rights, safety, faj, tuc, article 19, ifj