Joint statement on murders, harassment and jailing of journalists across Africa

MURDERS, HARASSMENT AND JAILING OF JOURNALISTS IN AFRICA

Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi, Dakar

September 18, 2006

The Foreign Correspondents’ Associations of Southern Africa and the Foreign Correspondents

Association of East Africa are deeply concerned about the murders, harassment and jailing of journalists across Africa recently. We believe that functioning democracies need an independent and unfettered press. Freedom of the press and respect for journalists play a crucial role in building good governance.

Attacks on journalists damage societies and run counter to the expressed aims of the African Union, the

New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Commission for Africa.

In the past few months journalists working in Africa have been charged with espionage, murdered,

harassed by government officials, and jailed for defamation and for publishing “false news.”

In Sudan, respected Sudanese editor Mohammed Taha, was kidnapped and murdered by unknown

parties.

The Sudanese government charged American journalist Paul Salopek with espionage and spreading false news. Mr Salopek, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, was released on "humanitarian grounds" before his trial began.

In Khartoum, a crew from Canadian TV CBC that had the necessary permit to film was detained and

assaulted in front of their hotel. Cameraman Simon Munene was punched in the head, which left him

bleeding from his eye.

In Ethiopia, at least 20 journalists were jailed, according to statistics by the International Federation of

Journalists from August. A female journalist, Serkalem Fasi, gave birth to her son in a police prison.

In Somalia in June, freelance Swedish cameraman Martin Adler was shot dead at a large rally in the

capital, Mogadishu.

In Democratic Republic of Congo in July, reporters were harrassed and beaten by supporters of Joseph

Kabila.

In Niger, a court last week handed down 18-month prison sentences and heavy fines against the

director and editor of the Niger private weekly Le Républicain. The pair were charged with defaming

the government in connection with a July opinion piece that suggested that Niger’s foreign policy was

“deserting the West for Iran.”

In Senegal, a court last week gave Alioune Ndiaye and Saliou Sambe, director and reporter with the

private daily L’Observateur, six-month suspended prison sentences over a story about alleged corruption.

Journalists complain on a regular basis on non-transparent visa procedures, "lost visa files", very long

delyas and lots of red tape that makes it very difficult to travel to countries like Sudan and Nigeria.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Associations note that the attacks have been on foreign and local journalists

alike. The Associations condemn the attacks and call for the immediate release of jailed journalists.

For more information, please contact:

John Chiahemen, Chairman, the FCA of Southern Africa: fca@onwe.co.za

Dr. Ulrike Koltermann, Chairwoman, the FCA of East Africa, board@fcaea.org