The South African government has joined calls for the protection of journalists’ rights, particularly during a time when South Africa is preparing for national elections.
According the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO violence against journalists intensifies during election cycles.
“Professional journalism and a free and objective press are cornerstones of democracy and serve to hold society accountable. We acknowledge the essential role journalists play in our democracy fighting for truth. We condemn any form of violence or intimidation against journalists domestically and internationally.
“South Africa remains committed to supporting a free and independent press. The protection of journalists is of utmost importance, as it is a form of protection of our own rights”, said Acting Director-General of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Nomonde Mnukwa recently.
Following the assassination of two French journalists in Mali in 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163, which proclaimed November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.
The resolution mobilises United Nations member states to intensify efforts to prevent violence against journalists and create a conducive environment for them to perform their work.
“This day provides an opportunity for all who believe in the advancement of democratic values and the preservation of citizen’s constitutional rights to speak out against any form of violence or harassment of journalists,” Mnukwa said.
Last month, South Africa commemorated Black Wednesday, which aims to raise awareness about the rights of journalists and remembers those who lost their lives fighting for the dignity of the profession.
In August, GCIS hosted a panel discussion with more than 100 journalism and communication students at the Tshwane University of Technology on the topic of Cyberbullying of female journalists, to create awareness on the harassment, discrimination and violence they face in the line of duty.
Furthermore, GCIS is planning to host a webinar on “Violence Against Journalists and the Integrity of Elections,” in the coming week.
“This is to ensure that, leading up to the election period next year, everyone is cognisant that journalists keep society informed, and foster democratic discourse and integrity of electoral processes. Details of the Webinar will be shared shortly.
“Government also commends the work done by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as well as the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) and various partners on the workshops they have been hosting across the country to prepare media for reporting on the upcoming 2024 national general elections,” GCIS said.