from MACOUMBA BEYE in Dakar, Senegal
DAKAR, (CAJ News) – THERE is concern over the harassment of journalists covering the outbreaks of coronavirus (COVID–19) in their respective countries globally.
The trend is emerging in Africa, which is the last continent to report cases of the deadly virus that was first reported in China at the end of 2019.
The journalists have been arrested, prosecuted and assaulted mostly for their criticism of their governments’ handling of COVID-19.
These violations come at a time the international community is commemorating World Press Freedom Day.
It is celebrated yearly on May 3 following a proclamation by the United Nations (UN) in 1993, urging governments to uphold the rights and protection of journalists.
However, in Africa, there have been reports of harassment in various countries.
Media and human rights groups criticised the backlash.
Sadiq Ibrahim Ahmed, Africa President for the Senegal-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said African governments must respect and accept the role of the independent media and not use their powers to control and stifle press freedom and the right to access information.
“Journalists must not be forced, cajoled or intimidated to either work in a situation of fear or favour the government of the day,” Ahmed said.
Amnesty International said the abuse of journalists and other critics of governments’ handling of COVID-19 was hampering efforts to tackle the virus.
“There is no hope of containing this virus if people can’t access accurate information,” Ashfaq Khalfan, Amnesty Director of Law and Policy, said.
COVID-19 has claimed over 244 000 lives from some 3,5 million cases worldwide.
– CAJ News