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IFJ report on press violations in Africa says role of journalists misunderstood

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), have released a new report detailing threats to African journalists from politicians, militias and religious extremists.

The report, "Press Freedom 2009 in Africa", explains that in peaceful zones there are still barriers to independent journalism and investigative journalism since the role of free media as a prerequisite for democracy is not properly understood. "Some government and social groups... do not want some of their activities to be reported by independent journalists," says the report.

In conflict zones, like Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, journalists are considered to be part of different factions and suffer from violent reprisals. During periods of civil unrest, journalists are accused of sympathising with the government or seen by government security agents as collaborating with demonstrators, as in Guinea and Niger. In Gabon, independent media was intimidated and gagged.

"Attacks against press freedom have turned into a general rule by political and opinion leaders," says the report. And many violations go unreported. Thirteen journalists were killed throughout the region in 2009.

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