African media stakeholders have launched the first digital online platform aimed at improving the protection of journalists, address threats and violence against them, foster early warning mechanisms and enhance response capacity within the continent.
The launch will be presided by Cyril Ramaphosa Chairperson of the African Union and President of the Republic of South Africa. Notable speakers expected to take part are Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, Jamesina King, Commissioner of the AU’s African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (AU-ACHPR) and Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa. A number of African heads of State are scheduled to take part, as are representatives of the media and civil society.
The journalists’ safety platform will facilitate real time response across Africa with a view to ending impunity for attacks against African journalists including harassment, arbitrary arrests, assault and killing. It will constitute a cooperative mechanism to keep track of attacks against journalists in the continent, and support reporting on attacks as well as follow-up actions to combat impunity. It will also help create synergies among African media stakeholders in holding the perpetrators of violence against journalists and media outlets to account.
The digital platform will notably monitor:
- Threats to the physical integrity and security of journalists and other media actors (including bloggers, writers, human right defenders and other persons communicating in the public interest);
- Impunity in the abovementioned cases;
- Threats to the confidentiality of journalists’ sources or threat to their physical integrity and security relating to their collaboration with journalists, media or human right defenders or organizations;
- Threats to journalists’ privacy;
- Restrictions on media freedom such as judicial and political intimidation of journalists (including hate speech and incitement to violence against journalists).
The platform was inspired by the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalists and Safety of Journalists and has been developed by African stakeholders, with support from UNESCO via its Multi-donor Programme for Freedom of Expression and the Safety of Journalists (MDP). It will be sustained through a joint mobilization of partnering organizations, namely four organs of the African Union (Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, of AU-ACHPR, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the African Governance Architecture (AGA), the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights), Civil Society Organizations, media networks and development partners.