The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) congratulates the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) on the successful launch of a media freedom campaign across the continent. The campaign was launched in Midrand, South Africa on Wednesday, 15 May 2013.
MISA welcomes this long-overdue intervention and pledges unwavering support towards the full realisation of all campaign objectives.
Aptly titled ‘Press Freedom for Development and Governance: Need for Reform’, this campaign is a fulfilment of a PAP Resolution – No PAP/P(3)/RES/08(1) – and it comes against the backdrop of the parliamentary body taking full cognisance of the benefits of a free press in society.
Reads part of the PAP rationale for a media freedom campaign: “The right to freedom of the press is one of the most important human rights. It is indeed an integral part of the right to freedom of expression. It is also seen as one of the cornerstones of democracy.
Unfortunately, Africa does not fair very well when it comes to press freedom. In many African countries, authorities have little or no tolerance for press freedom. The media legislation which is in place in many African countries is either inherited from the colonial times, or was instituted by former military and civilian dictatorships to clamp down on criticism and dissenting voices.”
In light of the above, PAP is seeking to establish a PAP award on Media Freedom in Africa and also establish a PAP Index on Media Freedom in Africa.
Secondly, the body has called upon the African Union (AU) member states to use the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights’ (ACHPR) Model Law on Access to Information.
Thirdly, PAP has requested development partners to support the implementation of the related Resolutions with assistance and support.
All these objectives are captured in the ‘Midrand Declaration on Press Freedom in Africa’. MISA sincerely hopes that this declaration, informed by other declarations, principles and protocols, will carry its rightful weight and will be respected as a key instrument in advancing media freedom and freedom of expression across Africa.
In this regard, MISA strongly supports the call made by the African Union Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for the PAP to have greater powers.
We echo her voice: “PAP must be stronger, offering a greater voice to the people of Africa through universal suffrage, capable of promoting the enactment of relevant policies and laws necessary for growth and development both at national and continental levels…”
MISA reiterates that it is very committed to working closely with the PAP and specifically the Committee on Justice and Human Rights to realise the goals of the media freedom campaign.