The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, through the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (the Special Rapporteur), Commissioner Jamesina King,would like to express concern about the recent attack on journalists who were reporting on the delivery of a petition of a Member of the Opposition to a UN office, which occurred in Kampala on Wednesday 17 February 2021.
The Special Rapporteur condemns this attack which resulted in several journalists suffering injuries during the incident. However, the Special Rapporteur has learnt that on Thursday 18 February 2021 the Ugandan military sentenced seven soldiers to up 90 days in jail after they were convicted of assaulting the journalists.
The Special Rapporteur would like to recall that freedom of expression and access to information are fundamental human rights guaranteed by Article 9 of the African Charteron Human and Peoples’ Rights, and other regional and international human rights treaties. Furthermore, as elaborated in the Preamble of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, the media and other means of communication play a key role of in ensuring full respect for the right to freedom of expression, promoting the free flow of information and ideas, assisting individuals in making informed decisions and facilitating and strengthening democracy. This is reiterated in Principle 20 which calls on States Parties to guarantee the safety of journalists and other media practitioners and take effective legal and other measures to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of attacks against journalists and other media practitioners, and ensure that victims have access to effective remedies.
The Special Rapporteur also reiterates the provisions in Resolution ACHPR/Res.468 (LXVII) 2020 on the Safety of Journalists and Media Practitioners in Africa, which calls on States Parties toensure “the safety of journalists and other media professionals, and create a conducive environment for them to practice their profession,” and further “that journalists and other media professionals are protected when covering demonstrations and mass rally and ensure that security officials are trained on this.”
The Special Rapporteur will remain actively seized of this matter.
Banjul, 19 February 2021