Back to Index
Commission calls for credible elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe
November 21, 2007
The African Commission
on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) special rapportuer on the right
to freedom of expression Commissioner Pansy Tlakula has urged Kenya
and Zimbabwe to uphold the right to freedom of expression and access
to information which she said are prerequisites for free, fair and
Tlakula called on Zimbabwe
and other states coming up with or amending existing legislation
to bring their laws in line with freedom of expression standards
in general and the Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of Expression
in Africa in particular. The Declaration was adopted by the ACHPR
at its 32nd Ordinary Session in Banjul, The Gambia in October 2002.
The two countries hold
elections next year.
Addressing the 42nd Ordinary
Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
which is in session in the Congolese capital Brazzaville, Tlakula
welcomed the adoption at the African Union Heads of State and Governments
Summits in Addis Ababa in January 2007 of the African Charter on
Democracy, Elections and Governance. She, however, decried the fact
that since its adoption, only 10 countries have signed the Charter
which needs an additional five signatories before it can come into
On broadcasting, Tlakula
called on member states to the African Charter on Human and Peoples
Rights that have not yet initiated broadcasting reforms to do so.
She underscored Principle V (1) of the Declaration on Principles
of Freedom of Expression in Africa which mentions that states shall
encourage a diverse, independent private broadcasting sector and
that a state monopoly over broadcasting is not compatible with the
right to freedom of expression.
Broadcasting Corporation continues to enjoy monopoly over the airwaves
as the government continues to dither on its pledges to amend the
Services Act to facilitate the entry of private players into
the broadcasting sector
Tlakula stressed the
need to reform state broadcasters into truly independent public
service broadcasters accountable to the public through parliament
and not the executive.
She said public broadcasters
should be governed by boards that are protected against interference,
particularly of a political or economic nature and that the editorial
independence of public service broadcasters should be guaranteed.
ZBC is managed by a board which is appointed by the Minister of
Information and publicity.
Tlakula urged member
states to come up with a public complaints system on issues of concern
relating to broadcasting in line with the Declaration which also
advocates for effective self-regulation as the best system of promoting
high standards in the media. A self-regulatory board, the Media
Council of Zimbabwe (MCZ) was launched in Zimbabwe on 8 June 2007.
On Criminal Defamation,
the special rapporteur urged member states to repeal all laws relating
to criminal defamation.
" I urge public
figures to tolerate a greater degree of criticism," she said.
She welcomed the adoption
of a Resolution for the adoption of an Additional Protocol to the
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on freedom of
expression. This resolution was adopted at a CSOs AU Summit Conference
on Strengthening Freedom of Expression in Africa which was held
in Accra, Ghana in June.
"I wish to note
that in countries which have been facing conflict situations, the
media have often been under attack. I wish to reiterate the fact
that attacks against journalists and destruction of media equipment
are illegal under international humanitarian law which protects
civilian persons and objects and therefore protects journalists.
involved in conflicts must remember at all times that media cannot
be considered a legitimate target, unless it is being exploited
to instigate grave breaches of humanitarian law," she ended.
The 42nd ordinary session
of the Commission will run until 28 November 2007.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.