IPC, ADISI, Media Rights Agenda and Institute of Media and Society are among the African Freedom of Exchange (AFEX) members participating at the 65th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). The AFEX members will later today participate in a side event with Banjul Commissioners, AU and Africa Safety of Journalists Stakeholders for the purpose of creating an AU Working Group on Safety of Journalists. The meeting is facilitated by MRA.
It is expected that the working group will lead to the adoption of ‘standing agenda on Safety of Journalists in Africa within the framework of the AU Peace and Security Council.
Mr. Arogundade said the meeting which will involve the participation of international and regional bodies including UNESCO and Media Foundation for West Africa will afford the Nigerian organisations to highlight the deteriorating press freedom situation in Nigeria as the country’s civic space continues to shrink. “We will certainly draw attention to the plight of Agba Jalingo and Jones Abiri, among others”, Mr. Arogundade said.
In a joint statement by the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights on the situation on Human Rights in Africa, they conveyed to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights their disquietude and alarm at the continued shrinking of civic spaces in many African countries noting that many countries in the continent are finding ways to limit the rights to freedom of assembly, association, expression and access to information, despite being guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Areas of concern identified in the statement is the growing trend of the use of cyber-security laws to unduly limit freedom of expression and access to information, particularly the use of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition and Prevention) Act, 2015, which have been used against Journalists and political activists such as Omoyele Sowore and Jones Abiri, similar incidents have been reported in Egypt, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Internet shutdowns were also identified as weapons of silencing and limiting citizens’ voices as seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo, during the presidential elections and Zimbabwe curtail protests by the citizens against fuel hikes, other Countries with incidents of internet shutdowns are Togo, Cameroon, Benin, Gabon and Sudan. Social media shutdowns were also repeatedly reported in the Chad and Zimbabwe.
They therefore urged the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to
- Respond to cases of shrinking civic space in Africa, wherever and whenever they happen;
- Call on African States to respect and protect the rights to expression, access to information, assembly and association for everyone under their jurisdictions.
- Call on African States to bring their Cyber-crime and Public Order laws in compliance with the provisions of articles 9 and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
- Continue to popularize the Commission’s Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa and the Commission’s Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa.