Over 2,000 African journalists, representatives of civil society organizations, politicians, academia and the judiciary, have gathered in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa for the celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day.
The three-day event, which is being jointly organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Ethiopian government, is offering a platform to discuss some of the challenges faced by the media.
These include journalist’s security, the menace of fake news, and how to understand the links between the media, democracy and elections.
Every year, World Freedom Day is held on May 3 to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
Yet, threats and attacks against the media continue to increase, putting the lives of journalists at risk. A 2017 report by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) said that media freedom continue to fall around the world as journalists are “being threatened by government censorship, organised crime and commercial pressures caused by the growth of the internet.”
Eighty journalists were killed last year while 348 were detained, making the year one of the dangerous moments to be a journalist, according to a 2018 report by Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that monitors the treatment of the media by authorities in over 130 countries.
In Africa, over 66 journalists, as of 2017, have been detained for doing their work, with the following countries being the worst jailers: Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea, Congo Brazzaville, Niger, Nigeria, and Somalia.
What is worrying is that in some of these countries, there have been painful silences from authorities over the whereabouts of some journalists who have been reported missing over the years.
As the world marks World Press Freedom Day, friends and families of the following missing journalists continue to press authorities for their return: