Leading global media figures have described the need for African governments to abolish curbs on press freedom as a ‘matter of urgency”.
At a meeting in South Africa, the World Association of Newspapers and World Editors’ Forum has promised to increase “aggressive and persistent campaigning against press freedom violations and restrictions in Africa,” while calling for the release of jailed journalists and recognition of the economic, political and social benefits of a free press.
The declaration said: ‘In country after country, the African press is crippled by a panoply of repressive measures, from jailing and persecution of journalists to the widespread scourge of ‘insult’ laws and criminal defamation which are used, ruthlessly, by governments to prevent critical appraisal of their performances and to deprive the public from information about their misdemeanours.”
The declaration calls on international institutions to promote press freedom in Africa and help by offering such assistance as legal defence, skills development and access to capital and equipment
More than 1,600 newspaper publishers, editors, managing directors and other senior newspaper executives and their guests from 105 countries are meeting in Cape Town at the annual gatheringg of the world’s press organised by the World Association of Newspapers.