The African Union has announced the launch of the first digital online platform aimed at improving the protection of journalists across Africa. The launch of the digital platform for the protection of journalists in Africa is being presided over by Cyril Ramaphosa Chairperson of the African Union and President of the Republic of South Africa.

Known as the "Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists in Africa," the platform will aim to address threats and violence against journalists, foster early warning mechanisms, and enhance response capacity within the continent.

"We look to this digital platform to contribute to an enabling environment for the media to operate in AU member states through respect for the rights of journalists and media workers and an end to impunity for crimes against journalists. We urge all Africans, all institutions, and all heads of state and leaders of government to support this historic project. Fifty years from now, when Africa celebrates the achievements of Agenda 2063, we will look back with pride at this moment, and at the role that the Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists will have played to end the harassment, detention and even murder of journalists," said Ramaphosa during the launch of the Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists in Africa.

Monitoring safety of journalists across Africa

Unfortunately, in some African countries, journalism can be a matter of life and death. This is true especially for journalists and bloggers who cover politics and business.

Often these journalists are subjected to threats especially when they uncover wrongdoing and corruption. This is where the African Union hopes their newly launched platform will help.

According to the African Union, the Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists in Africa will monitor the following:

  • Threats to the physical integrity and security of journalists and other media actors (including bloggers, writers, human right defenders and other persons communicating in the public interest);
  • Impunity in the abovementioned cases;
  • Threats to the confidentiality of journalists’ sources or threat to their physical integrity and security relating to their collaboration with journalists, media or human right defenders or organizations;
  • Threats to journalists’ privacy;
  • Restrictions on media freedom such as judicial and political intimidation of journalists (including hate speech and incitement to violence against journalists).

Violence against journalists in Africa

It is hoped that the African Union's journalists’ safety platform will facilitate real-time response across Africa to end impunity for attacks against African journalists including harassment, arbitrary arrests, assault, and killing.

"This Digital Platform will help improve awareness on the importance of media freedom and the safety of journalists in the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 aspirations," added Ramaphosa.

The platform will also constitute a cooperative mechanism to keep track of attacks against journalists in Africa and support reporting on attacks as well as follow-up actions to combat impunity. It will also help create synergies among African media stakeholders in holding the perpetrators of violence against journalists and media outlets to account.

The platform was inspired by the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalists and Safety of Journalists and has been developed by African stakeholders, with support from UNESCO via its Multi-donor Programme for Freedom of Expression and the Safety of Journalists (MDP).

It will be sustained through a joint mobilization of partnering organizations, namely four organs of the African Union (Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, of AU-ACHPR, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the African Governance Architecture (AGA), the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights), Civil Society Organizations, media networks and development partners.

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