Elections

 

Between January 2019 and June 2022, UNESCO documented 759 individual attacks on journalists, including five murders, during 89 elections in 70 countries.

Many journalists in some parts of Africa often work under extremely challenging conditions, and as the world marks the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, nbc News takes a look at the situation in some parts of West Africa.

Many journalists in Africa work under difficult conditions, with harassment and threats a daily part of their lives. Conflicts and military upheavals further compound the situation, with the safety of journalists increasingly being threatened.

Poor working conditions also contribute to an erosion of journalism ethics. As a result, media development and its accompanying freedom are compromised.

"You see Burkina Faso? You can just move to Ouagadougou, Boko Haram; you can't go to the north of Burkina Faso. The same is true in Mali, Niger, and many other countries. So we have a very big problem, and we think that the media also have their word to say. They have something to do, and it's important for us to discuss that, to see how media can help to solve all these conflicts and also to promote peace," says Abdoulaye Diallo, an award-winning journalist from Burkina Faso.

Every year since 2013, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists is commemorated on November 2 to pay tribute to journalists killed because of their work and raise awareness of the danger of impunity for crimes committed against journalists.

"My views on this are very personal. I was exiled for nine years, so I know very well the issue of the safety of journalists. I was detained in other countries that are not my country of origin. For example, I was detained in Zimbabwe in 2013 because I was travelling as a Gambian journalist who was wanted in my country. So the issue of the safety of journalists goes across borders. Journalists persecuted in one country tend to be persecuted in other countries that are friendly to their countries of origin. So the plan of action is something that is very dear to me. I'm also a former treasurer of the Federation of African Journalists, and we work towards this document with other partners. And I think that unless and until we see journalists as an integral part of society, our communities and our states will not take this document seriously. I think we need to do a lot of sensitization. Some countries are aware. Some countries do not care," says Ndey Tapha Sosseh, former president of the Gambia Press Union.

Dr Caroline da Costa is a university lecturer in Ghana and holds very strong views on the safety of journalists.

"It's our dialogue; we need to sit down and see how, together, we can get the pillars of democracy to work and also to give them the freedom to operate. I'm not sure the media is there to just be critical of the government or say negative things about the government, but if they are given the right conditions if they are also given their rights to operate and to work, I'm sure they will also do their work just as expected of them, and then society and the democracy that we all look forward to will be upheld in the same way that is done elsewhere in the West."

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Author
Peter Denk