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African states accused of gagging journalists

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By Mandy Pondani, In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

African countries, Malawi inclusive, have been faulted for failing to expand spaces in which the media can participate in raising awareness on human rights issues.

Rights experts made the observation in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, at an ongoing training conference for journalists on reporting and engaging with the African Commission and Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

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One of the facilitators, Seleman Kinyunyu f rom Tanzania, said such is the case because some countries are reluctant to recognise rights of individuals, including those of children.

“While journalists and media practitioners have been active in reporting on human rights developments in their respective countries and regional blocs, their participation in awareness-raising has often been curtailed by severe limitations to their freedom of speech,” Kinyunyu said.

Resident Representative for the African Union (AU), Yemisrach Kebede, said the media had a key role to play in national development.

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“The media should be used for enhancing and advancing the work of civil society organisations and human rights defenders. This can be done through capacity-building to increase coverage of activities taking place at AU level,” she said.

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