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NGOs call on African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to address lack of free expression

IFEX members and other civil society organisations from across Africa called attention to the dire free expression situation facing many countries on the continent, at the Forum for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO Forum) held ahead of the 47th Session of the African Commission of Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul, Gambia. The session runs from 12 to 26 May.

Representatives from ARTICLE 19, the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA), National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and the Syndicat National des Journalistes du Cameroun (SNJC) made presentations to the NGO Forum, raising alarm at the recent killing of journalists in Somalia, Cameroon, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

ARTICLE 19 was joined by the groups in leading a powerful resolution on freedom of expression that was adopted by the NGO Forum. The Forum condemned the suppression of freedom of expression of journalists in Somalia, Cameroon, Eritrea, Uganda, Gambia, Zimbabwe and Tunisia and stated its deep concern about the "considerably deteriorating state of freedom of expression and freedom of information in Africa."

The NGO Forum asked the ACHPR to: call on the government of Uganda to immediately end attacks on the right to freedom of expression and of the press, including the ban on media houses and live radio debate programmes; put pressure on the Gambian government to produce journalist Chief Ibrahim Manneh and to investigate the killing of editor Deyda Hydara; play a leadership role to assure the unconditional and immediate release of journalists imprisoned in Eritrea; and demand that Cameroonian authorities immediately end attacks on the media.

Forum participants recommended the ACHPR convene a high-level panel on the protection of journalists in Africa at its 48th session

The Forum also urged the Commission to implement the recommendations on Zimbabwe that were adopted by the Commission during the 46th Session requesting that the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression conduct a fact-finding and investigative mission to Zimbabwe.

A specific resolution on Tunisia was also adopted following a presentation to the NGO Forum by ARTICLE 19. On the heels of a recent mission to Tunisia, members of the Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of 20 IFEX members, called on the Commission to examine Tunisia's record on freedom of expression and related human rights.

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