The Chairperson of the African Union
Commission, Mr. Jean Ping, on 14 September 2012 received a delegation led by Mr.
Omar Faruk Osman the president of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ),
the regional African group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
It was at the sidelines of the two-day Pan-African conference on the safety of
journalists and the issue of impunity held at the African Union headquarters in
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
During the meeting, Chairperson Ping reiterated that Africa has made tremendous
progress towards free flow of information and freedom of the press. He hoped
more will be achieved in the future if resources are made available for
training of journalists to meet the rapidly evolving communication and
information management. Dr Ping urged journalists to change their mind set about
Africa and contribute in the development of the continent through objective
reporting on the efforts done in the different sectors to improve the lives of
FAJ President thanked Dr. Ping for his support
to the promotion of journalists’ safety under his tenure and hoped that his
successor, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma of South Africa will continue with the
same commitment to the protection of safety of journalists within the framework
of the existing partnership between the Federation of African Journalists and
the Directorate of Information and Communication (DIC) of the African Union
Meanwhile, the audience with the AUC Chairperson was as a follow-up to the
Pan-African conference on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity
jointly organized by the FAJ, regional group of the International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) and supported by UNESCO and the African Union Commission.
Journalists’ leaders, Ethiopian governments’ representatives, UN Special
Rapporteur, UNESCO and African Union Commission’s officials as well as trade
unionists are meeting to discuss strategies aiming to move forward the FAJ
campaign for the promotion of the safety of journalists and the end of impunity
of crimes against media.
In his opening address to the conference delivered by Ambassador John Shinkaye,
Chief of Staff in the Bureau of the Chairperson of the AUC, the Chairperson of
the African Union Commission Dr Jean Ping welcomed the increase in press
freedom and the emancipation of media in Africa. However, he pointed out that
there are still cases of abuse of power, discrimination against investigative
journalism. Recalling the African Union’s Shared Values which include press
freedom, Dr Ping pledged the Commission’s continued support for the advancement
of journalists’ safety, stressing that “Democracy cannot take root people have
access to objective information on which to rely to make informed decision.”
Addressing participants at the opening ceremony, FAJ President Omar Faruk
warned that African journalists still face high levels of violence and that the
culture of impunity for such crimes fuels climate of fear which leads to
self-censorship in media. He called for a plan of action in Africa to achieve a
binding resolution on the safety of journalists and safe working environment
“The impunity for violence against journalists deserves the equal attention to
crime targeting governments’ officials and international civil servants in
their official functions,” said FAJ President Omar Faruk Osman. “Safe
journalism empowers journalists to perform at the highest potential of their
skills and passion in delivering high quality information to the public.”
UNESCO Assistant Director-General for communication and Information J?nis K?rkli?š
said that safe journalism in Africa is a main priority for his organization
which works closely with the Special Rapporteur of the African commission on
Human and Peoples’ Rights on freedom of expression and access to information
and civil society in promoting media safety. He recalled that the UNESCO World
Press Freedom Day was established by the Windhoek Declaration, twenty years
ago. He added that Africa represents a strategic partner in the implementation
of the UN plan of action on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity
which was adopted by the UN Executives Board.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions Professor Christof Heyns underscored the importance of protecting
journalists, describing their rights to safety as ‘meta right’.
The IFJ President praised in his message the achievements of African
journalists under FAJ leadership in putting their safety on the political
agenda on national and regional level. The successful advocacy which led to the
adoption of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of a resolution
on the safety of journalists in 2011 was cited as a case in point. Mr Boumelha
highlighted the work the IFJ has been conducting on the global level to raise awareness
about the safety crisis in media, both in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
These included lobbying international institutions such as the UN where the IFJ
and FAJ delegations recently met the UN General Assembly President to urge
drastic action on the promotion of journalists.
The IFJ President listed a number of actions the international community should
take in this regard. They include the need for the UN Security Council
Resolution to give more prominence by naming and shaming offending countries,
an annual meeting under UN auspices with journalists and their organisation to
discuss the safety and impunity, the consideration to be given to the use of
media development aid and the link between the aid and safety of journalists as
well as the need for donor countries to scrutinise the countries’ records on
safety and impunity while deciding to grant aid.
“This is the right upon which the realisation of other rights depends,”
said Professor Heyns. “The killing of a journalist is not just a crime against
the victim but also a serious threat to all journalists who resort to self-
The ITUC-Africa General Secretary Kwasi Adu-Amankwah supported FAJ’s campaign
for the safety of journalists who are operating, noting that this is in the interest
“When a journalist is violently targeted and such attack is willfully left
un-investigated and perpetrators not prosecuted and sanctioned, impunity is
established. And when such practices become the norm, impunity is entrenched.
The growing culture of impunity with respect to attacks on journalists” said
Journalists’ leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Nigeria,
Tunisia and Somalia presented reports on the safety of journalists in their
counties. The conference will agree an action plan leading to the adoption by
the African Union of a binding resolution to ensure effective implementation of
existing legal instruments.
For more information,
please contact IFJ on +221- 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents more than 600.000
journalists in 134 countries