Sanef says SA journalists have something to celebrate

Date:

Tuesday May 3, 2016, is World Press Freedom Day and it is being celebrated by the South African National Editors’ Forum in common with journalists around the world as one of the most important days on the media calendar.

On this day the fundamental principles of media freedom are celebrated and evaluations are made of the role of media freedom in countries throughout the world. It is also a day on which tribute is paid to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. In 2015 the Committee to Protect Journalists recorded 72 deaths and according to UNESCO 29 journalists have died so far this year.

This day also provides the media with the opportunity to protest against restrictions imposed on press freedom and against attempts to intrude on the independence of the media.

During the years of apartheid rule and is some instances after the dawn of democracy, the South African media marked this day to record their protests against media restrictions and threats to enact laws that would inhibit media freedom, but today journalists have cause to celebrate the upholding of media freedom in SA. Journalists also mark the commemoration of this day as the 25th anniversary of the adoption by Namibia of the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Media in Africa in 1991. This led to the United Nations two years later proclaiming this day World Press Freedom Day.

Another press freedom issue South African journalists are celebrating this year is the declaration by the ruling African National Congress that legislation will be introduced in a few months to repeal the common law crime of criminal defamation which provided for journalists to be jailed for what they write. For years journalists around the world have been campaigning for the scrapping of this law which has often been used in some countries to jail critics of governments.

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