Friday, February 15, 2008

Reporters Without Borders accuses public officials of cowardice, dupli

Reporters Without Borders accuses public officials of cowardice, dupli
By Bivan Saluseki
Friday February 15, 2008 [03:00]

REPORTERS Without Borders has accused public officials around the world of "impotence, cowardice and duplicity" in defending freedom of expression. In its 2008 report released yesterday, the organisation stated that African "predators" of press freedom had also not yet given up in suppressing press freedom. Secretary general Robert Ménard said the spinelessness of some Western countries and major international bodies was harming press freedom.

"The lack of determination by democratic countries in defending the values they supposedly stand for is alarming," said Menard.

For Africa, the report stated that men in power who were believed to be above all suspicion had demonstrated that journalists were not always free on the continent.

"This includes leaders who were thought to have been convinced of the benefits that can accrue to a poor country from a diversity of news, from harnessing public debate, public transparency and the vigilance of demanding citizens," it stated.

The report stated that freedom of the press in Africa was badly damaged in 2007 and on at least twelve occasions during the year, some people received orders to kill journalists.

"African journalists - perpetually facing charges of defamation, publication of false news, damaging imputations, insulting the head of state, harming national security, sedition, incitement to disturb the public order or who knows what - have to manage their own cases alone.

Innocent or guilty, they have experienced the filth of a prison cell. Their families, whose chief characteristic is not to be rich, have to manage on their own resources while their breadwinner is unable to earn money," it stated.

The report stated that African media, like a crumbling dam, had taken in water.
"Taboos have been proudly broken.

A host of questions which are vital for the future of press freedom on the continent remain unanswered after this very testing year," it stated.

The report stated that across the continent, chiefly in the French-speaking part, there were numerous scandal sheets, which fed on ordinary corruption, chasing spectacular headlines and little envelopes.

"But the politicians, from Madagascar to Mauritania, from Guinea to Cameroon, via Cote d'Ivoire and the Central African Republic, are the main beneficiaries, making use of badly or unpaid journalists to settle their scores with opponents through bogus revelations. They do it because they have the means to do so and they can get way with it. Disgrace and prison are for others. Absurd logic, unjust justice," it stated.
The report includes press freedom abuse in the DRC, Somalia and Ethiopia, among others.

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