In only two months, 2014 has already become a year marked by issues of press freedom, freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. So the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is starting the countdown now – urging people in southern Africa and around the world to take the opportunity over the next two months to evaluate press freedom; to defend the media from attacks on their independence; and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
This is MISA’s mandate 365 days a year and over the next two months we will be sharing interviews, case studies, statistics and other information to raise awareness and encourage people to report and advocate for action against violations of press freedom and freedom of expression. We will start by releasing an online report on Monday 3 March, covering the state of journalist safety in southern Africa from 2008 to mid 2013. This is in the lead up to 3 May, when MISA will release the 2013 edition of our annual report on the state of the media in southern Africa, So This Is Democracy? 2013.
Already this year, we have heard about journalists being killed, assaulted, arrested and detained without charge in Egypt. In Ukraine, one journalist was murdered and dozens injured amid reports that pro-government groups are targeting journalists covering nationwide protests. In Venezuela, journalists are risking life and liberty to cover protests. Official repression and self-censorship restricted the coverage of sensitive issues in the lead up to the Winter Olympics held in Sochi; several foreign journalists were detained or banned from entering Russia; and visiting journalists, athletes and tourists had their emails and phone calls monitored, registered and stored. In Turkey, coverage of certain news items have been discouraged and even ruled off limits; the government is meddling in editorial policies of leading media and moving towards enacting repressive internet censorship legislation; and 44 journalists have gone on trial accused of belonging to an outlawed “media committee”.
These blows to media freedom have attracted global outrage and activists, civil society organisations and media workers all around the world have joined together in support of our colleagues through social media campaigns, protests and demonstrations and petitions.
MISA Regional Director, Ms Zoé Titus said, “Press freedom violations in Egypt, Ukraine, Venezuela, Russia and Turkey have dominated the headlines, but journalists are also doing it tough in southern Africa. Over the next two months, MISA will shine a light on the press freedom violations occurring in countries throughout our region.
“We will be posting online content on the state of press freedom in southern Africa, including analysis of issues, stories about journalists in southern Africa under attack, and actions everyone can take to stand up for press freedom. Together, let’s make 2014 the year we take a stand against physical and legal attacks on journalists and tell governments, journalism is not a crime”, said Ms Titus. To ensure you receive the latest news and information from MISA, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MISA.Regional.Secretariat, follow @MISARegional on twitter, or visit our website, www.misa.org.
For questions or further information, contact:
Alexandra Peard, Media Freedom Research and Monitoring Coordinator
Tel: +264 61 232975