Declaration on press freedom in Africa approved

3 July 2007 at 16:59 | 2587 views

A declaration on press freedom in Africa was recently approved by world media organizations and executives.

The declaration, adopted on the eve of the World Newspaper Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, calls for the immediate release of jailed journalists, the abolition of draconian press laws and the recognition of the importance of press freedom for economic, political and social development.

More than 1,600 newspaper publishers, chief editors, managing directors and other senior newspaper executives and their guests from 105 countries approved the Declaration of Table Mountain, named after the famous Cape Town landmark.

The declaration states: "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 misdemeanors.”

The WAN plans to present the Declaration to the UN General Assembly, the UNESCO General Conference and the African Union.

The Paris-based WAN represents approximately 18,000 papers. Its membership includes 77 national newspaper associations, newspaper companies and individual newspaper executives in 102 countries, 12 news agencies and 10 regional and worldwide press groups.

Photo: Timothy Balding, Chief Executive Officer, World Association of Newspapers.