[FoME] Why to oppose the EU-AU African Media Observatory

Christoph Dietz christoph.dietz at CAMECO.ORG
Do Jul 16 01:33:42 CEST 2009

<director at gfmd.info> 
Datum:   Dienstag, 14. Juli 2009 19.16 Uhr 
Dear Colleagues and friends,

The European Union and the African Union have made a proposal to set up a pan-African media observatory. 

In its current form, it would be harmful to press freedom in Africa and we have urged the EU and the AU to change it.

What is being proposed is a pan-African statutory press council with government involvement. It has no clear legal basis and it is not clear to which of the existing and often restrictive national media legislation in African countries it would refer to. This creates an inherent danger of the pan-African observatory being misused to limit media freedom, rather than to strengthen it.

The proposal takes no account of existing African texts defining principles of media freedom such as 1991 Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press or the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted in 2002 by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, nor does it mention any of the many on-going media development initiatives as a base for going forward.

The Global Forum for Media Development and the African Forum for Media Development have prepared a detailed submission, voicing our concern, urging the EU and the AU to reconsider the proposal and making some alternative suggestions.

We need your help to make the EU and AU change their minds.

This is what you can do:

1.  Have a look at our press release and the full submission on the GFMD web-site: www.gfmd.info; 

2.  If you agree with it, use it to make your own submission;

3.  You can vote on the EU-AU proposal on their web-site (which is also where you can find the full text of their proposal in English and in French)
at: http://media-dev.org/website.php?rub=accueil&lang=en 

4.  Please go to the web-site and register your vote on the proposal.

5.  Please write a letter or email to the EC Delegation in your country expressing your concern.

6.  If there is an AU office in your country, please send them a letter or email as well.

With our combined efforts, we hope to be able to stop the observatory and to engage with the EU and AU in a fruitful debate on how best to support media development in Africa building on existing texts, existing initiatives and existing expertise in Africa.

Best regards,

Bettina Peters          GFMD Steering Committee

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