Sep 17, 2009, 3:04 AM
Madam Itoro Eze Anaba, the focal person of the West African Human Rights Defenders Network (WARDHN) Anglophone West Africa, has called on states parties to comply with Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human and Peoples Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, as well as the provisions on freedom of expression enshrined in their respective constitutions.
"Freedom of Expression is a right recognised by international and regional human rights instruments and, particularly, by Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, as well as by many African constitutions, which include provisions that guarantee and protect this right," she said.
Ms. Itoro Eze Anaba made this call recently at the 47th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, which is currently underway at the Liaco Atlantic Hotel in
She emphasised that freedom of expression, including the freedom of the press, is key to the development of any country, adding that it is important for the continent to take specific measures to ensure the protection and enjoyment of this right by all.
She also urged state parties concerned to conduct independent investigations on cases of violations relating to freedom of expression, and prosecute those found guilty of these violations.
"We would like to remind state parties that freedom of expression implies the right to receive and disseminate information, express one's views and also to criticise situations that run counter to the established standards, as far as human rights is concerned," she said.
"It follows, therefore, that whenever human rights are violated, one should be able to report those violations, to be heard by any authority who receives complaints and awards compensation.
Unfortunately, it is clear that in practice, the enjoyment of this right is not always effective and suffers from numerous violations, especially in cases involving journalists," she added.
In Guinea, she added, "secret detention of journalists is still ongoing with the recent detention incommunicado of Emmanuel Toumani Camara, a journalist who lived in N'Zerekore, a town in South Eastern Guinea, held secretly in December 2009, and subsequently, declared persona non grata in the region by the governorate of the region."
"The police have not been able to solve any of these cases, and many journalists now live in fear for their lives, particularly following receipt of death threats issued to Yusuf Ali of The Nation Newspaper, Olusola Fabiyi of the Punch Newspaper, Chuks Okocha of This Day and Gbenga Aruleba of Africa Independent television," she further stated.