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Archbishop Desmond Tutu urges African heads of state to repeal insult and criminal defamation laws

(WAN-IFRA/IFEX) - 8 July 2010 - Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu of South Africa has endorsed the Declaration of Table Mountain, a media industry call to African heads of state to repeal insult and criminal defamation laws and place a free press higher on the political agenda.

"You, the media, have one of the most powerful instruments in helping our societies to value the truth," said Archbishop Tutu, addressing hundreds of journalists attending the Highway Africa media conference at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Archbishop Tutu's endorsement of the Declaration of Table Mountain is a major boost for a campaign that has been gaining signatories and widespread support across Africa. Full details about the Declaration, an initiative of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), can be found at

"The Archbishop's voice, added to those already committed to repealing insult and criminal defamation laws across Africa, will help deliver a clear message of change to those in power," said the WAN-IFRA CEO, Christoph Riess.

Archbishop Tutu, a leader in the South African struggle that eliminated apartheid, is known for his defence of human rights. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

The three-day Highway Africa conference welcomed close to 500 African and international journalists and media experts to debate the issues facing the African media. A majority of participants also pledged their support for the Declaration and signed up to actively promote the campaign in their countries.

The WAN-IFRA Declaration of Table Mountain Campaign is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. Sida and WAN-IFRA conduct an ambitious strategic partnership to advance media development and press freedom worldwide. A series of projects to support freedom of expression and to test new methods and approaches in strengthening media in emerging markets was launched this year.

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