JOINT PRESS RELEASE N.03
African Union Directorate of Information and Communication advocates for theprotection of journalists engaged in dangerous assignments
Addis Ababa, 15 September 2012: “The African Union Commission (AUC) believes on the crucial role of the media and their committed to tell the true story of Africa to the Africans and to the world as the journalists’ contribution to enhance the development and democratization of the Continent” the Director of Information and Communication (DIC) of the African Union Commission, Mrs. Habiba Mejri-Cheikh was speaking on 15 September 2012, while addressing participants during the Pan-African conference on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity holding from 14-15 September 2012 at the African Union (AU) headquarters of in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The objective of the conference is to create a culture of safety for African journalists and media workers through sustained efforts to protect them against attacks and to combat impunity against violence targeting media, in the interest of freedom and democracy.
The DIC Director underlined that the safety of journalists as well as freedom of expression still constitutes a key obstacle for achieving the full implementation of the right for freedom of opinion, even though much has already been done at continental level to enhance press freedom.
She underscored the importance to develop policies that will mitigate the risks faced by journalists when exercising their duties. She expressed the wish for African governments to ensure the safety of journalists through concrete action, strong commitment, and law enforcement. “The protection of journalists and media workers is inherent of rights and freedoms to which media professionals are entitled under the African Charter of Human and People’s rights and other international human rights treaties. But legal provisions alone will not help solve the problems without effective enforcement by governments of their obligations under international law instruments”, she underscored.
Deploring the fact that most media houses in Africa do not have appropriate and adequate policies and resources to protect their journalists especially those assigned to cover news event in dangerous situations, Mrs. Mejri-Cheikh highlighted measures taken by the African Union Commission to improve media freedom, the capacity of African journalists and access to information. “The African Union Commission is ready to cooperate with all continental and regional initiatives and efforts that aim to protect the media and ensure their safety” she added.
The Pan-African conference on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity ended today with a firm commitment to elaborate a credible strategy aimed at mobilising journalists and their organisations, media houses, governments, regional and international organisations such as the African Union and the United Nations’ leading agencies in the promotion of freedom of expression and human rights such as UNESCO and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, among others.
The conference resolved that journalists and their organisations need to develop effective mechanisms to monitor and gather information about press violations as well as to identify pro-active and results-oriented initiatives to ensure that such information is shared with the authorities and other partners at the local, national, regional and international levels.
A Plan of Action was adopted to ensure the implementation of some guiding principles aimed at protecting the safety of journalists in Africa.
For more information please consult the AU Website: www.au.int