Participants at a forum of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) preceding the formal session of the Afrian Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) have called on the Commission to strengthen civil society mechanisms that will enhance the fight against corruption in Africa. They made the call at their meeting ahead of the 63rd Ordinary Session of the Commission and 37th African Human Rights Book held on October 20 to 22, 2018 in Kololi, The Gambia
Specifically, the NGOs forum urged the Commission to develop a General Comment/Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Investigative Journalism to encourage and promote investigative journalism as an important tool against corruption in the continent.
It also urged the Commission to guide states on how to strengthen the capacities of the prosecutorial institutions on state obligations on freedom of expression, right to information, access to justice and how to regulate these rights as per regional and international standards through the development of a Special Mechanism on the Independence of the Judiciary.
Participants at the NGOs Forum in a communiques released at the end of the meeting pointed out that corruption has had negative impact on the values of governance and democracy in Africa and noted that compromised reportage and coverage negatively influences the public’s perception of what is true more so on public interest issues like health care, education, and land.
The Forum pointed out some conditions that fuel corruption stating that bribery of those in policy making positions also negatively affects freedom of expression and access to information policy making processes; corruption also affects objective and lawful licensing of media operators and disenfranchises those who are unable to pay high fees for bribes from running credible and independent media establishments; and critical and independent media practitioners have been co-opted into government by being given government jobs so as to silence objective media work therefore leaving the public with fewer champions of human rights and truth.
The Forum also urged the Commission to develops a General Comment/Guiding document on civic education on corruption and how it affects human rights to be adopted by all states in their civic education processes; establish special investigative units within the police to carry out investigations on freedom of expression and access to information violations together with other state entities; develops guidelines on best practices to combat corruption in line with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance adding that member states that have not ratified the Charter should also be compelled to do so.
They also called on all Member States to endorse international declarations on the protection of safety of journalists, support the adoption of international convention of safety of journalists, support adoption of international convention on safety of journalists and implement UN Security Council resolution on safety of journalists.