15th years of declaration on freedom of expression in Africa held

Monday, November 06, 2017

Stakeholders in the promotion of freedom of expression in Africa on Thursday gathered to mark the 15 years of the ‘Declaration of Principle on Freedom of Expression in Africa’ at a colorful ceremony held at the Senegambia Beach Hotel.

The forum organised by Article 19th and its partners, was held as a side event on the margins of the 61st Ordinary Session and 30th Anniversary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The day, which also coincided with the International Day to End Impunity for Crime against Journalists, was designed to evaluate the impact of the Declaration on the State of Freedom of Expression in Africa and strategise better implementation of its principles.

Over the last 15 years, Article 19 has consistently worked closely with the African Commission to support the development of a legal framework for the protection and promotion of freedom of expression and access to information in Africa and in line with the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information.

Speaking at the forum, Pansy Tlakula, the outgoing chair of the ACHPR and Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, African Commission for Human and People’ Rights, described the day as quite apt, saying the day was set aside globally to end impunity for crime against journalists.

She noted that the day was also the day in which the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights was operationalised.

She paid glowing tribute to Gambian journalists, who lost their lives, disappeared or exiled during the former regime, further thanking Article 19 for their foresight at the time in initiating the process and drafting the principles on freedom of expression in Africa.

For his part, Abubacarr Tambedou the attorney general and minister of Justice, thanked ARTICLE 19 for their foresight in convening these important forum. He further reiterated the commitment of the government to the principles of freedom of expression in the country, saying “if we had enjoyed that rights in the country over the past years, we probably would not have had the kind of government we had under president Jammeh. Going forward we intend to make sure we learned appropriate lessons in the country and we want to work closely with the media fraternity in this country.”

Fatou Jagne Senghore, director of Article 19 underscored the importance of the day, meant to evaluate the impact of the Deceleration on State of Freedom of Expression in Africa and strategise on better implementation of its principles.

Saikou Jammeh the secretary of The Gambia Press Union echoed similar sentiments.

Author: Sheriff Janko