His Excellency President Thabo Mbeki President of Republic of South Africa, And Chair of African Union His Excellency President Joaquim Alberto Chissano President of the Republic of Mozambique And Incoming Chair of the African Union. Your Excellencies Call for African leaders to release all incarcerated journalists and repeal anti media and anti freedom of expression legislation We are writing to express our concern over the continued incarceration of and harassment of journalists in the majority of African Countries for no other reason than carrying out their legitimate duties. We are also very concerned about the persistent violation of freedom of expression in Africa, which denies Africans the opportunity to participate in democratic debate towards solving the many problems facing the continent. The multitude of challenges facing Africa includes improving education, healthcare, HIV/AIDs, agriculture, building centres for scientific and technological, provision of adequate housing, conflict resolution - peace and stability and so forth. These challenges cannot be met without the active participation of the citizens of African countries. Active participation of citizens in shaping policy and decision making of their countries is however impossible if their own governments continue to deny them the rights necessary to ensure such participation. These include the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association and political participation, as well as media freedom to facilitate a free exchange of information, ideas and opinion. However these rights continue to be violated by numerous government despite the fact that virtually all African countries have signed up to or ratified the constitutive Act of the African union, the African Charter on Peoples and Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other similar documents. May 25th 2003 marked 40 years of the celebration of Africa liberation day and the formation of the Organisation of African Unity. Similarly May 26th 2003 marked the second anniversary of the formal establishment of the African Union It saddens us greatly therefore to note that more media houses have been shut down, and more journalists have been imprisoned, killed and driven into exile in the last forty years of independence of African countries than in the same period during the anti-colonial struggles that proceeded independence. With the exception of very few African governments, most have retained pre independence anti-media and anti-freedom of expression legislation that the colonial governments used to legitimise their incarceration of journalists in that era which remains one of the most shameful for the human race. Some have even managed
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