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Leaders of the world press meeting in South Africa this week have called on African governments to abolish all laws that restrict press freedom and have pledged to rev up their own campaigns against free expression violations and restrictions on the continent.

The Declaration of Table Mountain, approved on the eve of the World Newspaper Congress organised by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) in Cape Town, calls on African governments to release jailed journalists, abolish draconian press laws and recognise the importance of press freedom for economic, political and social development.

"In country after country, the African press is crippled by a panoply of repressive measures, from jailing and persecution of journalists to the widespread scourge of 'insult' laws and criminal defamation which are used, ruthlessly, by governments to prevent critical appraisal of their performances and to deprive the public from information about their misdemeanours," said the declaration.

The Declaration of Table Mountain, named for the prominent landmark overlooking Cape Town, will be presented to the UN secretary general, UNESCO's director-general and the chair of the African Union Commission to be distributed to and endorsed by their respective organisations.

The full declaration can be found here:

(5 June 2007)

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