The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) has called on governments and stakeholders to, as a matter of urgency, institute measures to ensure that freedom of expression rights are protected and to end impunity for crimes against journalists.
The group expressed serious concern about the issue of safety of journalists and impunity for crimes against critical voices on the Continent. AFEX said impunity for crimes against journalists leads to increased attacks on journalists and dissenting voices adding such is inimical for democracy.
AFEX released a 2017 half-year report which shows that impunity for crimes against journalists, media professionals, activists and citizens remains a worrying trend in Africa. The report titled Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa cites a total of 113 violations from 23 countries out of which only 10 of them, approximately nine percent, received some form of redress.
The AFEX Freedom of Expression (FOE) Situation report documents the attacks on journalists and media houses in Africa from January to June 2017 highlighting 12 categories of violations. Physical attacks and arrests, and detentions were the major types of violations with 32 recorded incidents each. Other documented violations include censorship, nine; online violations, eight; ban/shutdown of media organisations, seven. Six incidents of killing of journalists, the most heinous type of violation, were recorded during the period recorded in six countries.
The report shows that security agents were the major perpetrators of the violations recorded: they accounted for 80 accounting for 70.79% of the 113 violations. Security agents were followed distantly by state officials and individuals who were responsible for 12 violations or 10.61% each.
The report shows that only 10 out of 113 of these violations received some form of redress. It added that no perpetrator was arrested or identified for all six incidents of murder of journalists, four of which were perpetrated by security officials.
AFEX is a continental network of some of the most prominent freedom of expression and media rights organisations in Africa that are also members of the global network of free expression organisations, IFEX. The network is currently made up of twelve organisations spread across West, East, Central, and Southern Africa. AFEX seeks to promote freedom of expression and human rights on the continent through advocacy and campaigns, capacity building to ensure effectiveness of members and other free expression groups in the region.