Pan African Parliament Calls on African Countries to Repeal Oppressive Media Laws
The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) has called on African countries to repeal laws that oppress journalists and to also adopt the Model Law on Access to Information drafted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR).
At a meeting held in Midrand, South Africa, on October 18, 2012 entitled “Press Freedom for Development and Governance: Need for Reform,” the PAP resolved to lead a campaign on Press Freedom for Development and Governance in all the five regions of Africa.
In the resolution, PAP asked all African leaders to sign the Declaration of Table Mountain, an African-wide campaign aimed at repealing criminal defamation laws and putting press freedom higher on the African agenda. Only Liberia and Niger Republic have signed the Declaration despite wide support from freedom of expression and civil society organisations across the continent and around the world.
It also resolved to establish a “PAP Index on Media Freedom in Africa” in order to monitor the state of media freedom on the continent. To this end, it called on UNESCO, MISA, UNDP and similar organisations to help the PAP in strengthening its research capacity to help sustain the index.
PAP also resolved to lobby for the amendment of laws that restrict media freedom in many African countries; issue statements to condemn violations of media freedom in AU Member States; contribute to the efforts to modernize laws still in place that hinder media freedom in many AU Member States; urge AU Member States to improve working conditions for journalists and for creating a conducive environment for the media; and join efforts and endeavours for the protection of journalists in AU Member States, particularly during the period of pre and post-elections.
Other important resolutions reached include:
i.) To hold during its Second Ordinary Session of the Third Parliament in May 2013 a dialogue on the issue of press freedom in Africa.
ii.) Establish a “PAP Award on Media Freedom in Africa”. This could be an award that covers various categories: e.g. individuals, organizations and Member States.
iii.) Request its members to contribute positively in reform efforts that relate to media freedom in their respective countries.
iv.) Contribute to the process of drafting clear policies for ensuring the privacy and security aspects that are related to media.
v.) Encourage the formation of strong and independent professional media associations in AU Member States.
vi.) Undertake a joint mission with the ACHPR to facilitate reform efforts that relate to media freedom in AU Member States.
vii.) Engage in a constructive dialogue with various stakeholders in order to promote media freedom in AU Member States.
viii.) Encourage media institutions in AU Member States to develop self-regulating policies that can assist journalists to carry out their duties in a professional manner.
ix.) Enhance cooperation between the PAP’s Committee on Justice and Human Right and the ACHPR in order to integrate their efforts to promote media freedom in Africa.
x.) Promote media freedom in Africa which should not be limited only to the rights of journalists but also to balance between the rights and duties of journalists.