MISA Regional Statement
October 2 2013
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is greatly encouraged by the passing of a resolution on the Safety of Journalists at the recently concluded 24th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC).
MISA shares the concern that “violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression continue to occur, including increased attacks against, and killings of, journalists and media workers.”
“This resolution is significant in that it affirms the importance of the safety of journalists as a fundamental element of freedom of expression”, said MISA Regional Director Zoé Titus.
In southern Africa, journalists, media workers and freedom of expression activists continue to come under fire. Therefore, MISA fully supports the call for States, especially, those in southern Africa, “to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference including through (i) legislative measures, (ii) awareness-raising among the judiciary, law enforcement officers and military personnel as well as journalists and civil society regarding international human rights and humanitarian law obligations and commitments relating to the safety of journalists, (iii) monitoring and reporting of attacks against journalists (iv) publicly condemning, as well as, (v) dedicating necessary resources to investigate and prosecute such attacks.”
Furthermore, we are increasingly concerned about the very real threat posed by mass online surveillance to the work of journalists. MISA therefore support calls for the issue of surveillance technologies and online security to be introduced into the debate on the safety of journalists and the protection of whistleblowers.
MISA is committed to fighting impunity within southern Africa and will enhance the framework for its media freedom monitoring work to generate more evidence of violations with the aim of holding those who violate media rights to account. At the same time, MISA will extend mechanisms for protecting journalists, media workers and freedom of expression activists within the region.
Titus noted that 2013 is proving to be a significant year for media freedom. “Whilst our region (southern Africa) has avoided the violent conflicts that have continued to afflict other parts of Africa in the last decade, it is nevertheless a region confronted with vast challenges of poverty. Thus, the recent HRC resolution and the May 2013 Midrand Declaration on Press Freedom in Africa of the Pan African Parliament, is evident of a growing awareness of the media as a potential enabler of the kind of civic participation and empowerment that promotes human development,” she said.
MISA Regional Director