'If journalists cannot do their work freely, the very essence of society is attacked'

03 May 2019 - 07:37 By Iavan Pijoos
The high number of parties participating in the 2019 national and provincial elections will pose a very serious challenge for the IEC.
The high number of parties participating in the 2019 national and provincial elections will pose a very serious challenge for the IEC.
Image: GULSHAN KHAN / AFP

With only five days left to the 2019 national and provincial elections, Amnesty International South Africa says journalists must be allowed to do their work, free of harassment, intimidation and threats.

"Journalists are defenders of the right to freedom of expression, and if they cannot freely do their work, the very essence of our society is attacked.

"A vibrant and free press, reporting on the human rights and other related issues that shape our lives, is a key building block of any society," Shenilla Mohamed, executive director of Amnesty International, said.

Police have identified KZN and the North West as the highest risks for violence during next week's general elections.

But the state has vowed it will be on top of things, and is confident that safety and security measures have been put in place to create a safe environment for free and fair elections.

Mohamed has called on authorities, political parties and candidates to "publicly commit" to providing a conducive environment for journalists to work during the May 8 elections.

“The digital frontier has added another dimension, with Amnesty International South Africa observing a worrying trend of abusive comments, threats and harassment on social media in the run-up to the election. 

"Journalism is not a crime, and it is every person’s right to seek, receive and share factually correct information and ideas, without fear or unlawful interference," Mohamed said.


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