The Congress of African Journalists (CAJ) has today called on African Governments to end the impunity for crimes perpetrated against journalists in the course of their work. “On this 7th commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, we call on Governments and the Judiciaries to investigate all attacks and crimes against journalists and the media, and to bring the culprits to book” said Alexandre Niyungeko, president of CAJ. Female journalists are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence, sexual and verbal harassment, as well as online abuse. “The commitments to fight specific threats facing female journalists must be reinforced”, he added. In some countries human rights and media defense lawyers have been threatened and deterred from taking on cases of crimes against media professionals.
CAJ commends media defense and pro bono lawyers who have litigated for journalists and the media in courts over the last decades. CAJ condemns all attacks on journalists, and encourages the justice systems in the African countries to investigate and punish attacks on journalists and the media for exercising their work. The regional courts should be strengthened to take on desperate cases in order to fight impunity” the CAJ insisted. “The African Court and Regional Courts must build their capacities to take up cases when attacks against journalists cannot get local remedies.” The killing on 2nd November 2013 of two French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon in Northern Mali triggered the momentum prompting the United Nations General Assembly to adopt the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2nd November.
We recall that in 2018 the African Union dedicated the theme of the year to “Winning the fight against corruption: A sustainable path to Africa’s transformation”. Nevertheless, hitherto a number of journalists reporting corruption have been killed, maimed or jailed. CAJ calls on the African Union and its human rights programmes to fast-tract the Working Group and National Mechanisms to monitor, prevent, protect and prosecute attacks on the safety of journalists in the course of their work. We request the African Union to table the concerns of media professionals on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity in order to allow journalists to operate freely as aspired in its Agenda 2063.