Africa Commemorates 2022 World Press Freedom Day in Arusha, Tanzania

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Audrey-Azoulay
UNESCO’s DG

The 2022 edition of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) will be commemorated in Africa within the framework of the Africa Media Convention taking place at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) in Arusha, Tanzania, from May 1 to 3.  The convention will bring media and media partners in Africa and will explore the global theme for the year: Journalism under Digital Siege. Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan is expected to attend the event on May 3 as Chief Guest.

It is remarkable that Tanzania is hosting the event this year as the country is making significant progress in advancing press freedom, freedom of expression and access to information. The country has become a growing model of progress in Africa with the recent lifting of the bans on four newspapers, converging state agency functions for strengthened support to information, communication including the media and ensuring the integration of targeted outcomes for the promotion of public access to information as a fundamental right. These actions are illustrative of the expanding space for press freedom even as the government continues to demonstrate Tanzania’s willingness to open the media space.

The WPFD event provides an opportunity for the region and continent at large, to share, reflect and own the outcomes of the analyses, knowledge and lessons learnt through the multifaceted dialogue on the related sub-topics under the global theme. This year, the WPFD celebrates the 10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action for Safety of Journalists, an opportunity to reflect on the challenges and opportunities of its implementation.

This year, the theme beams the spotlight on the complex results of recent developments in surveillance, big data collection and artificial intelligence (AI), impact journalism, freedom of expression and privacy in Africa.

Also, to be spotlighted are the associated challenges to gender equality in media, media viability in digital times, and threats to public trust that arise from surveillance and digitally-mediated attacks on journalists, legal and policy reform process and the consequences of all this on public trust in digital communications.

The objectives of the Africa Media Convention are: to discuss the opportunities and challenges of digital expansions on journalism and press freedom in Africa, with a special focus on legislation and policy reform; to review Sub-Regional Reports on Press Freedom and document the impact and mitigation approaches, most relevant to the African context, of privacy, online surveillance and hacking on journalism and journalists’ safety in Africa; to discuss models for media viability promoting public trust amidst the global digital revolution; to discuss the role of data-driven impact journalism and the transparency of digital platforms as catalysts for citizens’ fundamental rights; and to build solidarity on the continent through strengthened networks, entrenching gender responsive and transformative media freedoms in the region.

The 2022 WPFD Africa Media Convention, UNESCO, the Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology and the National World Press Freedom Committee in the United Republic of Tanzania are collaborating with the Eastern Africa Editors Society (EAES) and UNESCO offices and regional partners in Africa to host the African Media Convention, a continent-wide event to mark the 2022 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) in Arusha, Tanzania.

May 3 every year is a date set aside to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. The UN General Assembly proclaimed World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991, in response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.