In a press statement signed by its chair, Jovial Rantao and issued today to mark World Press Freedom Day, and copied to ghanabusinessnews.com, TAEF called on African states to recognize the indivisibility of press freedom and their responsibility to respect their commitments to African and international protocols upholding the freedom, independence, and safety of the press.
“On this day, our thoughts go out to the many journalists and editors who are languishing in jails across the continent, simply for doing their work. One of these is Ahmed Abba, a journalist in Cameroon who was tried in a military court and handed a 10-year sentence with a hefty fine. Seven other journalists in Cameroon are on trial.
TAEF is also seriously concerned about the deteriorating state of media freedom and strongly deplores the intimidation, by the government of Zambia, of journalists and editors. Three journalists have appeared in court, charged with spurious crimes – all in an effort to intimidate them and dissuade them from telling the truth fairly and honestly,” it said.
The Forum, a federation of editors groups across Africa, says it remains deeply concerned about media freedom violations which are taking a growing toll on African journalists.
“We are concerned about the deterioration of media freedom in South Sudan, Republic of Congo, Uganda, Djibouti, Burundi, Nigeria, Mali and Eritrea,” the statement said.
The group further called on African governments to recommit themselves to the Windhoek Declaration and the Declaration of Table Mountain.
“Both declarations condemned, in the strongest terms, all forms of repression of African media that allows for banning of newspapers and the use of other devices such as levying import duties on newsprint and printing material as well as withholding government advertising.
We call on African governments that have jailed journalists for their professional activities to free them immediately and to allow journalists who have been forced into exile to return to their countries.”
“African states must promote the highest standards of press freedom in furtherance of the principles proclaimed in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other protocols and provide constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press,” it added.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi