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Declarations of the African Editor’s forum meeting held in Bamako, Mali

Declarations of the African Editor’s forum meeting held in Bamako, Mali

October 14-16, 2010, Mali Press House – TAEF held a two day conference attended by over 190 senior editors, editorial executives and media trainers from 36 countries. The conference looked at seven key areas. These are:

  • Media and the Challenge of Peace in Africa and how African media covers the AU’s peace-making and peace keeping efforts: Conference firstly decried the absence of AU officials who had been billed to attend as they were joint partners in the conference and in particular on this issue. Conference also applauded the efforts of the AU Commission on Peace and Security in bringing peace in a number of areas such as Somalia, Darfur in Sudan, Eritrea and the DRC. Conference called for closer co-operation between the AU as a whole and editors in facilitating visits to such areas to enable the journalists to report on the peace making and peace keeping efforts. It thus called for media to be involved in  promoting peace in Africa and be part of the process of peace building both at country level and at regional level. The incoming executive of TAEF has been tasked with facilitating meeting with the AU Commission to deliberate on these issues.
  • Safety  of journalists in Peace and war: Conference deplored the treatment of journalists in conflict areas such as Somali, Eritrea and DRC. Editors from these areas gave graphic testimony of the brutal murders, sometimes in newsrooms by militia groups. It called upon both the AU and TAEF to work together to ensure the safety of journalists in Africa in times of war. It called on the AU to find mechanisms to enforce its own protocols providing for protection of media freedom and freedom of expression.
  • Quality and standards of Journalism in Africa: Conference felt the standards of journalism in Africa varied from area to area and from country to country but called for the intensification of efforts to promote good journalism. Conference heard that development issues were sidelined in favour of personality driven coverage which then sidelined the poor and rural communities and their issues. A call was made to African media in various countries to establish independent self regulatory mechanisms that would enforce codes of good practice. Conference rejected the use of low standards as an excuse by governments to introduce restrictive laws or interference with the independence of the media. Conference, in recognising that access to information was critical to the overall development of the continent; commend the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for recently signing into law the Access to information bill. Council also applauded efforts in Niger and Guinea Conakry to remove restrictive laws and release journalists who had been in prison.
  • Food Security in Africa and the missing link in coverage of food aid and dependency on food aid: Conference was the venue for the launch of the French version of the Reporting Development News in Africa (rDNA), a news service based at Rhodes University, South Africa, which writes and distributes news on development and agriculture throughout the continent. A call was made for African media to utilise this service, which is free. Conference felt coverage of foreign food aid in crisis areas was superficial and failed to recognise the disruption of people’s lives brought by war.

Conference also:

  • Called upon the AU Member States to sign the Table Mountain Declaration and pass laws  on access  to information
  • Urged the Media fraternity  to use the  20th anniversary  of Windhoek Declaration to audit the  state of the media in Africa

Read the Declaration here

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