IFJ Challenge to African Union Leaders: Set Journalists Free and Abandon Press Controls

The International Federation of Journalists today called on African Union Heads of State to release all jailed journalists and repeal all anti freedom of expression legislation. The IFJ is supporting a petition launched on June 5th by CREDO for Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights and Fahamu to be presented at the African Union meeting of Heads of State in Maputo in July and addressed to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, the current Chair of the AU.

“In most African countries journalists work under intolerable conditions because of disregard for their professional, social, trade union and basic human rights,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

“Governments must realise that the promotion of human rights, peace, tolerance and stability, public accountability, access to information and general people’s participation in the decision making process are key challenges for a vibrant and constructive Africa. They are certainly key challenges for the journalists themselves”.

The IFJ says the removal of all legal and political obstacles to the exercise of free and independent journalism in Africa is a fundamental starting point. But the African Union must play a positive and practical role in the process by promoting freedom of the press throughout the continent. The IFJ says the African Union should endorse the principles set out in the Windhoek Declaration of 1992 and respect of International Labour Organisation conventions and labour standards.

“The African Union’s pledges for good governance and people’s participation in the political process has never really materialised,” said White. “On the contrary the appalling situation of journalists in Eritrea and Zimbabwe, for example, two countries that were among the first signatories to the AU constitutive act, do not attract any reaction. Such political double-speak casts a shadow over the prospects for democracy and the future of the AU ambitions”.

The IFJ calls on international journalists and their organisations to sign up for this online petition in order to make a strong statement to the African Union meeting in July.

The editorial in support of the petition and the petition itself can be read and signed here .

Or to sign up directly, send your name, organisations name [if applicable] and country to E-mail: editor@pambazuka.org. Kindly state if you are signing in your personal capacity or on behalf of your organisation.

See also

Full text of the petition

Further information: + 32 2 235 22 00

The IFJ represents more than 500, 000 in more than 100 countries