The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) has today hailed the engagement of the African Union Commission (AUC) for the release of the three Al-Jazeera journalists and called on the AUC Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to fast track the campaign for the release of all journalists imprisoned in Africa.
In a statement published yesterday the African Union Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma welcomed the release of the three Al-Jazeera journalists jailed for 7 to 10 years by Egyptian authorities on charges of helping the Muslim Brotherhood. The journalists Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste, were arrested and jailed in 2013. Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy were released on Friday 13 February 2015, while their colleague Peter Greste was released and deported on Sunday 1 February. Dr Dlamini-Zuma had urged the Egyptian Government to expedite all processes for the release of the three journalists.
Critical, investigative and independent reporting of sensitive issues in Africa has been often criminalized in many countries. Penal codes, secrecy legislation as well as anti-terror laws are frequently being used to suppress journalists, media freedom and freedom of expression. These laws are used to convict journalists of criminal libel, defamation and slander.
The FAJ has renewed its calls to authorities in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt and many other African counties that are holding media personnel in custody to release all detained journalists immediately, without further delay, unconditionally and to withdraw all charges against them. FAJ underscores the importance for African states to develop policies that will mitigate the risks faced by journalists in exercising their duties. This includes taking practical measures to ensure the safety and security of journalists through concrete actions, strong commitment, and law enforcement.
As a priority, African governments must step up the need to guarantee the freedom of expression as well as the safety of journalists for democracy and good governance. Furthermore the rule of law cannot thrive in Africa without the effective functioning of the media that propels divergent views and gives voice to the voiceless.
For more information, please contact FAJ Secretariat: +221 33 867 95 86/87
The FAJ represents 50,000 journalists in Africa