Tracereporters –Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) has noted with great concern the presentation made by the President, Congress of Africa Journalists, Christopher Isiguzo, at the 2nd Africa Media Convention held in Lusaka, Zambia, on 11- 13 May 2023, depicting the deplorable status of Press Freedom in Africa, with particular reference to Central Africa sub-region, where sit tight leaders have continued to stifle press freedom and human rights unabated for decades.
AMDF is deeply disturbed by the Lusaka revelation and the horrifying conditions under which journalists and media organizations are operating in the region. Reports compiled by prominent institutions dealing with issues of Press Freedom, including the International Press Institute (IPI), Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, and VOA, among others, indicated gross violations of press freedom in all the eight countries of the region with Cameroon coming top on the list. Cases of threats, intimidation, harassment, jailing, and even killings of journalists have continued with impunity.
In a press statement jointly signed by Umar Baba Kumo Senior Researcher, Press Freedom, AMDF and Sekyen Dadik Executive Director, AMDF on the15th May, 2023
Accounting to the press statement, “Of recent, Paul Chouta, a reporter said to be critical of Paul Biya’s policies spent 2 years in prison while Samuel Wazizi who worked for Cilen Music Television did not survive to tell his ordeal after he was abducted in 2019 and tortured to death in 2020 for allegedly supporting Anglophone separatist. In January 2023, the mutilated body of Martinez Zogo a popular radio personality was found in Yaounde five days after he was abducted by unknown individuals. The dead body of Jean Jacques Bebe another radio presenter was found outside his home in the capital on February 2. The slain journalists were said to be running radio programs digging into corruption and critical of senior government officials.
“The situation is the same and even worse in places like DRC, Chad, and Equatorial Guinea. In Congo, for example, journalists are faced with real threats, arbitrary arrest, torture, and imprisonment for criticizing the government, reporting corruption, or granting interviews to opposition parties.
“Similarly, even in less hostile environments like Nigeria, journalists, and media organizations have faced serious intimidation, harassment, and fines at the hands of security agents and media regulatory agencies, particularly during elections.
“With these sad developments, Africa Media Development Foundation wishes to call on relevant national, regional, and International Institutions and Agencies to redouble efforts including legal processes to strengthen Press Freedom not only in Africa but globally.
“Western powers should impose diplomatic sanctions on such despotic leaders that do not have respect for human rights and freedoms. Western financial institutions should stop providing a safe haven for corrupt leaders who steal and impoverish their people. They should also stop supporting corruption in Africa by rejecting and exposing the proceeds of corruption stashed in their financial institutions.
“The AMDF believe strongly that for press freedom to be strengthened political leaders, especially in Africa must have respect for human rights and freedom as enshrined in their constitutions, AU and United Nations Charters on Freedom of Expression, Life and Association.
“Political leaders must be held accountable for their actions under relevant laws. Journalists and media organizations should be seen and considered as responsible citizens rather than a threat, who are carrying out their normal duties and responsibilities as watchdogs in society.
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