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African Union’s Special Rapporteur urges states to ensure safety of journalists

Article 19

2 July 2013

The African Union’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Pansy Tlakula has urged states in Eastern Africa to do more to ensure the safety and protection of journalists who work in one of the world’s most dangerous regions.

So far this year four media workers have been killed in Somalia and five journalists are facing charges relating to their work in Ethiopia. Over 30 journalists are incarcerated in Eritrea and two are in jail in Rwanda. ARTICLE 19 reiterates its resolve to support the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and calls for accountability for violence against journalists and media workers.

“Burundi, Ethiopia, and Eritrea are the worst countries within the Eastern Africa region for jailing journalists. In Somalia, Tanzania and South Sudan, media workers have been killed with impunity. This has severely restricted freedom of expression in the region and we welcome the Special Rapporteur’s call on states to take concrete measures to ensure accountability for the safety and protection of journalists in their countries” said Henry Maina Article 19 Eastern Africa Director.

Speaking during a stakeholders meeting on the decriminalisation of laws limiting freedom of expression and the safety of journalists in Eastern Africa, co-hosted by ARTICLE 19 in Burundi, the African Union’s Special Rapporteur, Pansy Tlakula said that states have not done enough to ensure journalists are secure and this has contributed to increased attacks on journalists where perpetrators are rarely held accountable. “The AU Heads of State Assembly should also consider passing a binding resolution on safety and protection of media workers in Africa so that countries can be obliged to implement it,” added Tlakula.

“Tanzania which for many years had not reported any cases of journalists being killed saw two media workers killed between June 2012 and March 2013. In Djibouti, the judiciary continues to sentence journalists to long jail terms, discouraging anything critical of the government. Media workers are routinely harassed in South Sudan and daily threatened by government officials. These instances are a real cause for concern,” added Maina.

ARTICLE 19 will continue to support journalists and governments within the Eastern Africa region to ensure accountability for crimes against freedom of expression. As part of its broader protection program in the region, it has been providing personal safety skills to journalists in a region where there are increasing numbers of attacks against journalists and media workers. ARTICLE 19 also operates an emergency support fund to assist journalists in distress from Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. The support fund provides small, one-off financial and/or material support to journalists who are unable to perform their work as a result of violence and intimidation in these countries.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

For more media interviews please contact: Henry Maina, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa Director, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call on +254 20 3862230/1/2

 

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