A meeting of the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) and its affiliate national unions and associations, this week, concluded in Kigali with a statement condemning what they called ‘politically motivated reports’ by some international media organisations.
In a seven-point statement, participants singled out ‘Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and some of the media watchdogs that distort and misrepresent facts related to press freedom in the Eastern Africa region.
‘These reports are often inflammatory, alarmist and sometimes call for unjustified discriminatory action against targeted governments in the Eastern Africa region,’ reads part of the statement.
‘EAJA calls upon international media watchdogs to desist from publishing biased and fabricated reports on media issues in the Eastern African region, which is always done without partnership and consultation with local media organizations,’ reads part of the statement.
The communiqué calls on the African journalists to take the lead in telling the African story, and urges EAJA and its affiliate bodies to build credible monitoring instruments that can be used to measure the state of the media.
Participants also aacknowledged ‘the positive evolution of Rwandan media against a backdrop of the devastating history of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi’, according to the communiqué.
The meeting also urged ‘Eastern Africa governments to support EAJA and its affiliates in its noble cause of promoting press freedom and the profession of journalism.
‘Governments are also called upon to desist from any political interference in media operations to allow the free flow of information,’ it adds.
The statement was signed by eight EAJA officials, including Omar Faruk Osman Nur (Somalia), the president of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), who also doubles as EAJA Secretary General; Alexander Niyungeko (Burundi), EAJA Vice President; and Tervil Tom Okoko (Kenya), the Coordinator of Press Freedom, Research and Advocacy, EAJA.
EAJA operates in among others; Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda. Others are Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.