The problem faced by journalists in Africa has never been one of obscurity of the threats or perpetrators of violence against the media, it has been one of impunity.
Can it therefore, be said that the continuous injustices and threats being directed towards African journalists are finally getting the attention they deserve?
The African Union will answer in the affirmative given that it has announced the creation of a digital platform that will be charged with tracking threats being directed towards journalists all through the African Continent in a bid to improve protection for media workers and support the right to freedom of expression.
The AU specified that the platform (www.safetyofjournalistsinafrica.africa) will serve as a stepping stone to ending all forms of detention, harassment, and even assassination of journalists.
“We stand on the shoulders of these giants, these heroes of the of the media in Africa in whose name we today launched this platform that is designed to help end the harassment, detention, and even murder of journalists, just for doing their work,” said Jovial Rantao, chairman of the African Editors Forum.
The downside of this digital platform, however, is the fact that it fails to bring out strategies on how these threats and violence on African media practitioners will actually be stopped at all levels including at the grassroots.
Stubborn and Dictatorial regimes across the African continent will still hold the powers necessary to perpetrate injustices on media professionals who are striving to do their jobs.
Despite the optimism expressed by African journalists following this latest initiative to secure their profession, it nevertheless cannot be taken too seriously given the proven impotence of the African Union in combating various forms of injustices across different spheres on the continent.
Many have grown frustrated over the years of how barren the AU has reacted to repressive regimes and to dictators who have violated all forms of human rights just to cling to power.
Cameroon Remains a Death Trap for Journalists
Journalists in Cameroon for example, have continually been kept on their toes for the reports they do. The only journalists protected in the country are those who sing praises to the regime and all its barons.
As of now, there are at least 7 known journalists that have been jailed in Cameroon for crimes related to their reporting of issues concerning the government, making the country one of the worst in terms of freedom of press and expression in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Within the past four years equally, at least 3 journalists have died in detention due to the deplorable conditions and torture they were exposed to. The latest of these cases was that of Buea-based journalist, Samuel Wazizi.
Six other journalists were killed across the African continent in 2020 according to the International Federation of Journalists. It also reported that countless others were threatened, harassed, and jailed.
While one must applaud any efforts aimed at combating what is a deplorable situation for journalism in the continent, it must be stressed that decisive action has to be taken by the AU for there to be any meaningful impact.
Mimi Mefo Info