July 8, 2018
Leaders and representatives of journalists’ unions in Eastern and Central Regions convened in Kigali, Rwanda, on 5-6 July 2018, for a Regional Workshop on Press Freedom and Safety of Journalists to review the persistent press freedom and safety of journalists’ challenges in both regions.
The participants had extensive considerations over the continuing and dangerous degradation of fundamental freedoms of journalists in most of the countries of Eastern and Central Africa, and noted with disappointment that media muzzling, pressure, intimidation and violence against journalists are increasing.
Faced with this deeply concerning situation, the participants condemned the intimidation, repression, violence and harassment of journalists and journalist union activists, and demanded the national authorities to respect the rule of law and fundamental human rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom of the press, safety of journalists as enshrined in national constitutions, African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and International Human Rights Systems.
The participants of the Regional Workshop, which was held under the auspices of the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA), ardently expressed their profound concerns about prevalent impunity of human rights violations committed against journalists in the two regions such as killings, physical violence, harassments, misuse of the justice system against journalists and enactment of inimical & undemocratic laws.
Journalist union officials denounced violations of freedom of association and attacks on trade union rights against journalists’ unions in the two regions which are the main threat to the existence of free and independent journalist unions to execute their core mandate of representing, defending and promoting rights, interests and aspirations of journalists’ community.
Eastern and Central Journalist Leaders decided to mount a synchronised and consistent regional, inter-regional, continental and international campaign to secure the protection of safety of journalists, reform undemocratic laws against media freedom, confront persecution of journalists & independent media and attack impunity of unpunished crimes against journalists.
Journalist unions from Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon, Burundi, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda called on Governments in Eastern and Central Africa regions to support and impel the draft new UN convention for the safety and independence of journalists and media professionals, proposed by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The regional workshop, which was organised in partnership with the IFJ and Aljazeera Media Network, endorsed the International declaration on the protection of journalists, and called for concrete actions on the domestication at national level to secure the protection of safety and rights of journalists.
Unions of journalists in Central and Eastern Africa regions extended strong solidarity to Egyptian journalist Mahmoud Hussein of Aljazeera Media Network and condemned his continued and unjust detention without trial in Cairo, while calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
Journalists leaders urged the African Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the East African Community (EAC) to end impunity of crimes against journalists. They also called on their member States to carry out progressive legal reforms, stop intimidating journalists and their organisations in view of allowing journalists to be unionised freely and to represent journalists independently.
The regional workshop, hosted by Association of Rwandan Journalists (ARJ), is a consolidation of mutual cooperation between EAJA and Union des Syndicats des Professionnels de la Presse d'Afrique Centrale (USYPAC) who have wide-ranging and solid relationship within the framework of the IFJ.