World’s press calls for renewed solidarity in the wake of threats to independent‚ free media in SA

12 June 2017 - 18:01 By Staff Reporter
File photo.
File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

The board of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has called on the South African government to ensure an environment that better protects media freedom and the independence of journalists‚ notably in the face of proposed legislation that threatens a free press.

The Board drew attention to the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill as an “assault on the right to digital privacy” and a threat to the protection of journalists’ sources‚ while it also supported ongoing efforts to challenge the 2002 Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act.

The board also denounced the draft Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill‚ which would criminalise "bringing contempt and ridicule" onto figures of authority‚ as well as the Film & Publication Board Amendment Bill‚ which broadens state power to censor content.

It noted that the controversial Secrecy Bill could still be signed into law after Parliament recommended President Jacob Zuma give it his final approval‚ despite vigorous opposition from media and civil society groups.

"WAN-IFRA has expressed its deep concern that the government is considering a range of measures that will intimidate the press‚ promote self-censorship and silence criticism. In order to address the shrinking space for independent journalism‚ WAN-IFRA has urged the South African authorities to adopt a more open‚ inclusive approach to dialogue and to work with media‚ legal and civil society organisations to craft legislation that seeks to enable‚ rather than restrict‚ a more positive environment for freedom of expression."

The full text of the resolution can be viewed here.

WAN-IFRA met in Durban last week‚ an event attended by media from around the world.

During its meeting in Durban‚ the WAN-IFRA board also passed six other press freedom resolutions‚ calling on global solidarity for media facing extreme challenges in Botswana‚ Cameroon‚ Tanzania‚ Zambia‚ Mexico and Turkey.

The resolutions can be read at:

- WAN-IFRA Board Resolution Botswana

- WAN-IFRA Board Resolution Cameroon

- WAN-IFRA Board Resolution Tanzania

- WAN-IFRA Board Resolution Zambia

- WAN-IFRA Board Resolution Mexico

- WAN-IFRA Board Resolution Turkey

WAN-IFRA is the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. Its mission is to protect the rights of journalists across the world to operate free media‚ and provide its members with professional services to help their business prosper in a digital world and perform their crucial role in open societies.

With formal representative status at the United Nations‚ UNESCO and the Council of Europe‚ it derives its authority from its global network of leading news publishing companies and technology entrepreneurs‚ and its legitimacy from its 80 national association members representing 18‚000 publications in 120 countries.

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