We, 42 participants from 33 organizations* dedicated to freedom of expression and media freedom in Africa, met at a conference sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Accra, Ghana, from October 28 to 30, 2005, and hosted by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), in partnership with Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and Journalists en Danger (JED);
Agreed to establish a network that will seek to fundamentally change over the next decade the environment for freedom of expression in Africa called the Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO).
To this end, we agreed
1. To form a coordinating committee that broadly represents all constituencies, comprised of JED, MFWA, MISA, MRA, the International Federation of Journalists Africa office (IFJ/Africa), the West African Journalists Association (WAJA), Organisation des Medias d’Afrique Centrale (OMAC/OCAM), All Africa Editors Forum, and groups from North Africa, East Africa and the Horn of Africa.
2. To invite the MFWA to serve as the host organization.
3. To invite the coordinating committee to designate a convening organization, on an annually rotating basis.
4. To build and strengthen the capacity of regional and sub-regional organizations, especially in the Horn of Africa, East Africa and North Africa.
5. To put in place a rapid response mechanism to deal with crises that seriously impact on freedom of expression in Africa.
6. We agreed to address the following issues:
6.1 Legal And Institutional Frameworks
- strengthen and harmonize continental and sub-regional protections; and
- at the national level, work for the repeal of criminal laws affecting the media (e.g. sedition, defamation, insult, false news); reform and reduce penalties associated with civil laws; reform broadcasting laws to promote pluralism; transform state media into true public service bodies; reform media regulatory bodies (build/strength their independence).
6.2 Media Issues
Work to stop violent attacks on, and detention of, journalists; stop financial pressures on the media (e.g. manipulation of government advertising and price of newsprint); and improve working conditions of media practitioners.
6.3 Access to Information Laws/Practice
Work towards the enactment of democratic access to information laws in all African countries over the next 10 ten years.
Including for journalists on legal issues/professional standards, especially with respect to privacy and accuracy and avoiding defamation; and for lawyers on international freedom of expression standards.
7. To address these issues, we agreed to develop campaigns, mechanisms and methods of engaging the international, regional and sub-regional structures, and to involve international freedom of expression organizations.
8. In particular, we agreed to identify a few major campaigns on which to focus each year; and to also launch campaigns to address urgent issues as they arise.
9. We agreed to establish specific structures (issue-based coalitions) to address specific issues, e.g.:
a. For work at the African Union (AU), including the Executive Council, the Summit and the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR), on issues including the drafting of a Treaty on Freedom of Expression in Africa, and to respond to country reports on freedom of expression.
b. To issue a resolution on strengthening of freedom of expression in Africa.
c. For work at regional bodies, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), East Africa Community and others.
d. For work at the international organizations, including the United Nations (UN) and UN Human Rights Commission or Council (media and freedom of expression violations), UNESCO (communications, culture, language), the Economic Commission for Africa, ECA (information and communications technologies, ICTs), the European Union, EU and the European Commission, EC (trade impacts on freedom of expression), the United Nations Development Programme , UNDP and the World Bank (role of media in development and the Millennium Development Goals), the International Labour Organization, ILO (rights of media workers), Red Crescent and Red Cross (visits to journalists in detention).
e. To address detention of journalists in particular countries, e.g. in Eritrea.
f. To take advantage of summits and other regional and sub-regional high-level meetings.
10. The methods of action should be designed to maximize effectiveness, including making legal challenges, submitting papers, launching protests (letters, visits, petitions, and demonstrations), targeting scheduled meetings, and convening consultations, workshops and conferences.
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Journaliste en Danger (JED)
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
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
NGE: Nigerian Guild of Editors
OMAC: Organisation des Medias d’Afrique Centrale
OTM: Observatoire Togolais 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
ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
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
AI: Amnesty International, Ghana Chapter
GCRN: Ghana Community Radio Network
CHRAJ: Commission on Human Rights & Administrative Justice
Ghana Bar Association
Ghana Journalists Association
In Attendance by Special Invitation
ACHPR: Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression in Africa, Commissioner Andrew R. Chigovera