SANEF CALLS FOR THE PROTECTION OF MEDIA FREEDOM
By MP Staff Reporter
May 3 is World Press Freedom Day and SANEF joins media freedom organisations and journalists across the world to call on governments in Africa and abroad to protect and defend media freedom.
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, following a recommendation adopted at the 26th session of UNESCO’s general conference in 1991. It was a call by African journalists (including key SANEF founder members) who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration.
SANEF, when founded in 1996, adopted the Windhoek Declaration – which was consistent with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which called for the establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent, pluralistic, and free press as an essential part of the development and maintenance of democracy in a nation, and for economic development.
The founding journalists and publishers of the Windhoek Declaration maintained that the African States should be encouraged to provide constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press and freedom of association.
In 2021 journalists are facing increased attacks, including imprisonment, torture, and murder. In South Africa journalists are attacked by criminals, are harassed by cyberbullies online, receive death threats and- women journalists especially – are often targeted by party political supporters.
The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day: “Information as a Public Good”, underlines the indisputable importance of verified and reliable information. It shines the light on the “essential role of free and professional journalists in producing and disseminating this information, by tackling misinformation and other harmful content, ” says Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.
Over the past 25 years, SANEF has championed media freedom and fought to ensure that journalists are safe and protected while speaking truth to power. Added to the stranglehold of daily attacks and intimidation, our journalists (along with all frontline workers) brave the threat of Covid-19 infections and risk to their health in their efforts to bring us the truth. In South Africa, media freedom is enshrined and protected in our Constitution. It is the right of every citizen to protect media freedom and freedom of expression. If media freedom is threatened, our democracy suffers.
Sanef believes journalists have played a significant role for the public good especially under the Covid-19 pandemic. We will continue to campaign for media that is ethical and truthful at our upcoming Ethics conference later this month.