Resolution to Strengthen Freedom of Expression in Africa

We, the 42 representatives of 33 organizations participating in the Conference of African Freedom of Expression Organisations held in Accra, Ghana, from October 28 to 30, 2005, under the auspices of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and Journaliste en Danger (JED), with sponsorship from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO);

Concerned by the continued violation of freedom of expression across Africa;

Concerned by the increasing enactment and abuse of repressive media laws in many parts of the continent;

Further concerned by the killings, imprisonments and arbitrary arrests and detentions of journalists and media workers, and the arbitrary suspension and closure of media outlets around the continent;

Gravely concerned by the lack of response of the African Union and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to address these serious violations of freedom of expression;

Recalling the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in October 2002;

Recalling the Resolution on the Mandate and Designation of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression in Africa by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted in December 2004;

Recalling the appeal to the African Union made by more than 100 media and freedom of expression organizations on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2005;

Welcoming the commitment and the Statement of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on World Press Freedom Day 2005 reiterating the importance of freedom of expression and the role of the media;

We call on the African Union to:

- strengthen the existing mechanisms on freedom of expression in Africa;
- ensure that the current Special Rapporteur Mechanism is fully independent and is provided with the necessary resources to efficiently execute the mandate;
- take into account freedom of expression in the peer review mechanism process under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD);
- urge African Union members to respect freedom of expression and to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur to address the challenges of freedom of expression across Africa;
- urge African governments to adopt a Treaty on Freedom of Expression in Africa;
- urge the African Union to establish as a matter of urgency the African Court on Human Rights and make it operational.

We further call on the African Union to:

1. ensure the release of all arbitrarily detained Eritrean journalists and political prisoners held incommunicado since 2001;

2. ensure that an independent investigation is conducted to probe the murder of journalist Deyda Hydara in the Gambia;

3. closely monitor the situation of freedom of expression in Tunisia and ensure that freedom of expression advocates are protected and prisoners of conscience are freed;

4. take urgent measures to protect journalists and media practitioners in Somalia against the violent attacks and harassment by officials of local authorities and non-state actors.

Done this 30th of October 2005 in Accra

Attached is the list of organizations

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Host Organisations

Journaliste en Danger (JED)
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)

Participating Organisations

African Organisations

AFMF: Africa Free Media Foundation (formerly NDIMA Network for the Defence of Independent Media in Africa)
AMDISS: Association for Media Development in Southern Sudan
CNLT: National Council for Liberties in Tunisia
EFJA: Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association
FAMEDEV: Inter-Africa Network for Women, Media, Gender Equity & Development
FXI: Freedom of Expression Institute
HornAfrik Media
NGE: Nigerian Guild of Editors
OMAC: Organisation des Medias d’Afrique Centrale
OTM: Observatoire Togolas des Medias
PIWA: Panos Institute West Africa
SCFE: Somali Coalition for Free Expression
TAEF: All Africa Editors Forum
URATEL: Union des Radios & Televisions libres du Togo
WAJA/OJAO: West Africa Journalist Association/ Union des journalistes de l’Afrique de l’Ouest
CREDO: Centre for Research Education & Development of FOX & Association Rights

Non-African Organisations

ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
Free Voice
AMARC: World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters
IFJ: International Federation of Journalists
IMS: International Media Support
Index on Censorship
OSI: Open Society Initiative - Network Media Program and Justice Initiative
CHRI: Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Ghana Organisations

AI: Amnesty International, Ghana Chapter
GCRN: Ghana Community Radio Network
CHRAJ: Commission on Human Rights & Administrative Justice
Ghana Bar Association
Ghana Journalists Association