Pan-African campaign: Decriminalising independent media reporting

Special rapporteur Pansy Tlakula has initiated a campaign against defamation laws (Photo: CHR)

Special rapporteur Pansy Tlakula has launched a continent-wide campaign against defamation laws (Photo: CHR)

As part of an ongoing Pan-African campaign against criminal defamation and insult laws, the project supported regional stakeholder meetings in Eastern and Southern Africa. The meetings on “Decriminalisation of laws limiting freedom of expression and the safety of journalists” brought together governmental officials, national human rights institutions, national journalist associations as well as civil society organisations. They were conducted by the African Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information and coordinated by the Center for Human Rights.

A key outcome was the common understanding amongst the participants regarding the negative impact criminal laws may have  on freedom of expression. At the same time, the importance of ethical journalism and effective self-regulatory mechanisms was highlighted. At the end of discussions, participants developed twenty country plans of action aiming at further dialogue with the governments in order to decriminalize  the respective laws. Agreement was also reached on concrete steps that needed to be taken in order to improve the safety of journalists. During the stake holder meeting in Southern Africa, 18 NGOs decided to jointly intervene in the Konaté case at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha. This initiative contributed to the milestone ruling on freedom of expression by the court in December 2014.

In addition, the project supported local media experts in conducting research on the status of freedom of expression in their home countries.  Download a selection of their study reports here:

Study Report Benin (pdf)
Study Report Zambia (pdf)
Study Report Zimbabwe (pdf)

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