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Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa
African Commission on Human & Peoples' Rights, African Union
Adopted by The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, meeting at its 32nd Ordinary Session, in Banjul, The Gambia, from 17-23 October 2002


Reaffirming the fundamental importance of freedom of expression as an individual human right, as a cornerstone of democracy and as a means of ensuring respect for all human rights and freedoms;

Reaffirming Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoplesí Rights;

Desiring to promote the free flow of information and ideas and greater respect for freedom of expression;

Convinced that respect for freedom of expression, as well as the right of access to information held by public bodies and companies, will lead to greater public transparency and accountability, as well as to good governance and the strengthening of democracy;

Convinced that laws and customs that repress freedom of expression are a disservice to society;

Recalling that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoplesí Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as other international documents and national constitutions;

Considering the key role of the media and other means of communication in ensuring full respect for freedom of expression, in promoting the free flow of information and ideas, in assisting people to make informed decisions and in facilitating and strengthening democracy;

Aware of the particular importance of the broadcast media in Africa, given its capacity to reach a wide audience due to the comparatively low cost of receiving transmissions and its ability to overcome barriers of illiteracy;

Noting that oral traditions, which are rooted in African cultures, lend themselves particularly well to radio broadcasting;

Noting the important contribution that can be made to the realisation of the right to freedom of expression by new information and communication technologies;

Mindful of the evolving human rights and human development environment in Africa, especially in light of the adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoplesí Rights on the establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoplesí Rights, the principles of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, 2000, as well as the significance of the human rights and good governance provisions in the New Partnership for Africaís Development (NEPAD); and

Recognising the need to ensure the right to freedom of expression in Africa, the African Commission on Human and Peoplesí Rights declares that:

  1. The Guarantee of Freedom of Expression
  2. Interference with Freedom of Expression
  3. Diversity
  4. Freedom of Information
  5. Private Broadcasting
  6. Public Broadcasting
  7. Regulatory Bodies for Broadcast and Telecommunications
  8. Print Media
  9. Complaints
  10. Promoting Professionalism
  11. Attacks on Media Practitioners
  12. Protecting Reputations
  13. Criminal Measures
  14. Economic Measures
  15. Protection of Sources and other journalistic material
  16. Implementation

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