The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Education (UNESCO) have requested the African Union to establish a Working Group to address the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. This was during the conference on “Promoting the Safety of Journalists and the Campaign against Impunity in Africa” held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 15 November 2017
. The conference was supported by UNESCO through its International Programme for Development of Communication (IPDC) funding that was organized by FAJ and the UNESCO Liaison Office in Addis Ababa.
The conclusions of the FAJ conference were presented and discussed during the Africa Senior Media Dialogue (ASMD) which took place on 16-17 November in Addis Ababa and attended by key African media stakeholders. ASMD, whose theme was “The Role of the Media in Africa’s Development, Women’s Empowerment, and its Support for Agenda 2063”, integrated the ‘Safety of Journalists’ in the Dialogue and highlighted the need to advocate for safer working environment.
“We believe that an African Union Working Group would be able to monitor the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity in a very coherent way, in order to proffer sustainable mechanisms for solutions.” said Abdulwaheed Odusile, President of FAJ. ”In addition, the African Union Working Group will be very crucial in supporting and monitoring the rolling out of National Mechanisms for the Safety of Journalists on the African continent as per the 14th November Nairobi Declaration which was endorsed by our Addis Ababa conference of 15th November 2017 and its Declaration.”
According to UNESCO’s Director General annual report on safety of journalists, “from 2006 to 2016, no less than 930 journalists were killed. In more than nine out of ten cases, the perpetrators are never brought to justice”. Following the killing on 2nd November 2013 of two French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon in Northern Mali, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
“To comprehensively address safety of journalists’ concerns on the African continent, we need to have a multistakeholder approach through well-coordinated national mechanisms, that brings together all the media stakeholders and the three arms of the governments” emphasized Lydia Gachungi, Regional Expert on Safety of Journalists and Media Development, UNESCO Office for Eastern Africa.
Following the conference, the FAJ leaders and UNESCO officers met with officials of the African Union Commission to discuss the way forward to strengthen the engagements with the African Union and its organs for the implementation of existing instruments to address the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, in order to allow journalists to operate safely for development in Africa.
The FAJ represents 50,000 journalists in Africa