UNESCO and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights partner to fight impunity for crimes against journalists

The rate of impunity for crimes against journalists remains extremely high worldwide, according to UNESCO figures, which show that since 2006, fewer than 7% of these crimes have been brought to justice. In Africa, only five of the 131 murders of journalists committed between 2006 and 2015 have been brought to court.

UNESCO and the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights will host an inter-regional dialogue in Arusha, Tanzania, on 10 September to raise awareness and help reinforce capacity building of law professionals in Africa regarding freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, ways to ending impunity and the need to decriminalize defamation.

Legal protection for journalists in the exercise of their profession is an important prerequisite for freedom of expression, explains Frank La Rue, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, because, as long as journalists are at risk of being threatened, arbitrarily detained or killed for informing the public, freedom of expression will be curtailed and society's ability to make informed choices limited.rdquo;

Judicial and quasi-judicial human rights mechanisms in Africa, such as the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, play an essential role to foster the rule of law in Africa, and notably for the respect of freedom of expression, safety of journalists and the end of impunityrdquo;, said Faith Pansy Tlakula, Chairperson and Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, who will speak at the Seminar.

But today, only 30 of Africa's 54 States are part of the Court and only seven countries allow their citizens to bring cases directly to it. The event in Arusha also aims to encourage more African countries to ratify the Court's Protocol so as to become part of the regional judicial body.

African lawyers, judges, law professors, justice ministry personnel from several countries, as well as representatives of non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations defending freedom of expression will take part in the seminar. Augustino Ramadhani, outgoing President of the African Court will give a keynote speech at the opening of the event, which will consist of three different sessions on the following subjects: African jurisprudence and international standards, The capacity of judicial actors at the national level, The Protocol and Declaration of the African Court

The event is held in preparation of this year's International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which will be observed on 2 November.

Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).