EAJA Bulletin - September 2002

East Africa Journalists Association

ETHIOPIA - EFJA Denounces Government Move on Press

The Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA) has condemned the new press law and the journalists' Code of Ethics that the government is drafting. In a resolution adopted on August 17, 2002, the EFJA says the Press Law in force currently, is vague. It adds, that Media professionals have not participated in its drafting. The resolution further question the timing of this law which comes at a time when the EFJA, counterpart associations throughout the world, are urging the Ethiopian government to amend the existing Press Law. The formulation, issuing and enforcement of professional code of ethics are the exclusive rights of freely organized associations and free society and not the right of the rulers. In this connection, the EFJA resolution says," Journalists code of ethics must be drafted, endorsed and implemented by the journalists themselves without any external intervention and not by any other body. EFJA and its members are strongly opposed to the government's drafting and enforcement of the code of ethics". The resolution goes on to say "The new Press Law and code of ethics deprives citizens of the right to exercise their freedom of expression and exchange of ideas and would be cause for the cancellation (withdrawal) of press licenses." Meanwhile, Participants to the 10th IFEX General Meeting in Dakar, Senegal, have condemned the Ethiopian government for its continued attacks on the free press. In a declaration signed at the end of the meeting in support of their colleagues the journalists decried the routine violent repression and systematic destruction of the free press and the imprisonment of three journalists: Lubaba Sa-id, Tewodros Kassa and Zegeye Haile. In addition, they insisted that the government allow IFEX and international press institutions to send joint missions to Ethiopia to examine the situation of journalists.


KUJ Boss Appeals to Journalists The Kenya union of journalists has called upon journalists to observe impartiality in the coverage of political events ahead of Kenya's general elections. Media coverage of political events in Kenya has in the past been slanted in favour of one group against the other. During general elections, the government media especially the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) has displayed outright bias in favour of government and the ruling party Kanu. In the run up to the 1997, General elections, parliamentarians addressed this matter under the IPPG and resolved that each political party be allocated equal airtime to express its views during political campaigns. Contrary to these recommendations the KBC has continued to favour president Moi's regime and its sympathisers while giving selective coverage to government critics. Presently, the KBC is under criticism for favouring Uhuru Kenyatta who is president Moi's choice for successor. The station recently gave live coverage to a political rally that Mr Kenyatta presided over in Nakuru greatly angering advocates of equal access to the public station.


Government Warns Media on Ethics The Tanzania government has issued a stern warning to media outlets that disregard professional ethics in their work saying such conduct has greatly contributed to the falling of moral standards in the country. In a statement issued on August 30 2002 and quoted by the MCT's Media Watch, the government warns that it would take action against any media house that go against professional ethics in their publications. The statement especially castigated tabloids that publish semi pornographic material and macabre photographs victims of death.


Non-Statutory Media Council The Uganda chapter of the Eastern Africa Media Institute (EAMI) has completed countrywide consultations towards the formation of a non-statutory media council. According to the EAMI coordinator Mr Haruna Kanaabi, the new council could be in place before the end of this year.
EAJA Bulletin is compiled bi-monthly by the Eastern Africa Journalists Association Network, which is part of the Media For Democracy in Africa programme supported by the European Union and managed by the International Federation of Journalists.