Journalists and civil rights activists hold protests in Nairobi on September 8, 2016 over harassment and killings of journalists. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP
A United Nations agency and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) will hold talks on crimes against journalists.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) and ACHPR will host an inter-regional dialogue in Arusha, Tanzania on Saturday to raise awareness and help reinforce capacity building of law professionals in Africa regarding freedom of expression and safety of journalists.
According to ACHPR, the rate of crimes against journalists remains high worldwide.
Since 2006, fewer than seven per cent of these crimes have been brought to justice.
In Africa, only five of the 131 murders of journalists committed between 2006 and 2015 has been brought to court.
Mr Frank La Rue, the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information said legal protection for journalists is an important prerequisite for freedom of expression.
“As long as journalists are at risk of being threatened, arbitrarily detained or killed for informing the public, freedom of expression will be curtailed and society’s ability to make informed choices limited,” he said.
But today, only 30 of Africa’s 54 States are part of the court and only seven countries allow their citizens to bring cases directly to it.
The event in Arusha also aims to encourage more African countries to ratify the Court’s Protocol so as to become part of the regional judicial body.
African lawyers, judges, law professors, justice ministry personnel from several countries, as well as representatives of non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations defending freedom of expression will take part in the seminar.
Judge Augustino Ramadhani, outgoing President of the African court will give a keynote speech at the opening of the event.
The event is held in preparation of this year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which will be observed on November 2.