CAMPAIGN FOR PRESS FREEDOM AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN AFRICA

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

Sponsor

Fahamu is committed to supporting progressive social change in the South through using information and communication technologies. Fahamu believes that civil society organisations have a critical role to play in defending human rights, and that information and communications technologies can and should be harnessed for that cause. We are committed to enabling civil society organisations to use the Internet in the interests of promoting social justice. Fahamu produces & provides *Electronic newsletters disseminating news, information and debate about social justice in Africa *Distance learning materials for human rights and humanitarian organisations *Training through face-to-face workshops *Managing websites for our partners *Making web-based resources available for offline use *Undertaking social policy research on Africa AND The Centre for Research Education & Development Of - [CREDO]- Freedom of Expression & Associated Rights is an International human rights organisation focusing on work in Africa. CREDO believes that freedom of expression and other strongly associated rights, are major platforms on which all civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights stand. CREDO further believes that

Links

**Pambazuka weekly electronic newsletter. Mass circulating Africa focussed publication dealing with rights and development issues. Read editorial making case for petition @ - http://www.pambazuka.org/newsletter.phpid=15362 Home page - http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php Past editions: http://lists.kabissa.org/lists/archives/public/pambazuka-news/ **Read supporting statement by the worlds biggest organisation of journalists - the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in support of the petition campapign - http://www.ifj.org/default.aspIndex=1673&Language=EN . The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over a 100 countries. **Read supporting statement by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), the worlds largest organisation of newspapers. http://www.wan-press.info/pages/article.php3id_article=1417 WAN is the global organisation for the newspaper industry, and represents 18,000 newspapers; its membership includes 72 national newspaper associations, individual newspaper executives in 100 countries, 13 news agencies and nine regional and world-wide press groups. [From WAN] RAP21, African Press Network for the 21st Century - http://www.wan-press.info/pages/rubrique.php3id_rubrique=162 **Read supporting statement by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA): http://www.misa.org/sadc_journalists/press_releases/20030703_MISA%20_Supports_Petition.htm MISA is a dynamic, member-driven network of national chapters coordinated by a professional regional secretariat which seeks - through monitoring, training, capacity building, research and the distribution of information - to foster free independent and diverse media throughout southern Africa. MISA home page: http://www.misanet.org/ Also see the websites of: **Reporters Without Borders (RSF): HomePage - http://www.rsf.fr/ RSF Africa Section - http://www.rsf.fr/rubrique.php3id_rubrique=36 **The Committe to Protect Journalists (CPJ): HomePage - http://www.cpj.org/ CPJ Africa Section- http://www.cpj.org/regions_03/africa_03/africa_03.html And **International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) - http://www.ifex.org/en

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