Misa seeks Sadc guarantees on media freedom

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BY TATENDA SQUARE

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) has pleaded with governments in the Sadc region to respect Press freedom.

The media rights lobby group will today launch the inaugural Southern Africa Press Freedom Report at the Africa Regional Forum in Namibia ahead of the World Press Freedom Day celebrations to be held next week.

The report covers a number of subjects such as gender and the media, the state of digital rights in southern Africa and individual media violations.

Misa Zimbabwe senior programmes manager Nyasha Nyakunu yesterday said: “We hope this report will be used as a tool to measure progress that has been made or lack thereof on the enjoyment of the right to media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information.”

This year’s World Press Freedom Day celebrations are being hosted by Namibia, the birthplace and cradle of the Windhoek Declaration.

The Windhoek Declaration is the foundational pillar of World Press Freedom Day, and is commemorated annually on May 3. This year’s theme is Information as a Public Good.

The production of the Southern African Press Freedom Report was supported by Unesco and Fojo International Media Support.

Nyakunu pleaded with Sadc leaders to honour the terms of the Windhoek Declaration.

“In that context, it is our appeal to Sadc governments to take the necessary steps to live up to the letter and spirit of the Windhoek Declaration,” he said.

He implored the region’s governments to put in place measures that safeguard citizens’ right to freedom of expression online in compliance with the African Declaration of Internet Rights and
Freedoms.

Last year, Sadc leaders agreed to take pre-emptive measures against external interference, the impact of fake news and abuse of social media particularly in electoral processes, raising fears that governments could soon clamp down on digital rights.

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