An extract from the opening address by President Thabo Mbeki to the 60th World Newspaper Congress of WAN, Cape Town International Convention Centre, 4 June 2007.
Our continent has not escaped the effects of the tussle between media freedom and governance. There are some countries on our continent where journalists are in prison and this is worrying for all of us. African media workers and editors have been complaining about this, as has the African Union Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression in her reports.
There is particular anger around what is seen as impunity enjoyed by some governments in their perceived or actual actions against journalists and editors. I am also aware of the feeling among African editors that libel and similar laws are used to deal with a media that is seen as uncomplimentary to the authorities.
The problem of media freedom around the continent is an important one as the media’s role in informing and thereby empowering the people of Africa cannot be disputed. We note with appreciation the efforts underway between the African Union and the African Editors Forum to declare a year of African media freedom so as to mobilise public opinion around the important role media plays in development.
There are also plans for an annual day for media freedom as well as opening lines of communications between the political leadership and editors. This may culminate in the first debate between five Presidents and five editors in Accra, Ghana, in a month’s time.
This kind of dialogue is new and holds the hope for breaking new grounds in extending freedoms and understanding between political leaders and leaders of our media community. For our part here at home, we are meeting with our editors in two weeks time to share ideas, as we have done in the past.
In this context we must also express our own concern about the insecurity of journalists in various parts of the world, represented, for instance by the kidnapping of Alan Johnson of the BBC in Gaza, and the reported killing of as many as 12 journalists in Iraq in May alone.
We in Africa can and do benefit from criticism, but we do ask that it should be based on accurate information and should be properly contextualised.
Well said, Mr President
In this case the Sunday Times has encroached on an individual`s right to privacy,engaging in or encouraging theft etc surely wrong even if it is done by the Sunday Times?
As I understand it (and I am at one remove working at The Times …)
1. The Sunday Times did not steal anything.
2. A judge of the High Court has ruled that the paper was right to publish as there was a “pressing” need for the public to know about this stuff.
3. No details of the ministers medical condition have been used from the copies of the files the paper got …