Press freedom protesters

What does Africa FREEDOM DAY mean, when Journalists are imprisoned for written words? What does AFRICA LIBERATION DAY mean when freedom of assembly and protesting are criminalized?  What are we to celebrate if there’s no freedom of picketing and freedom of expression?

As we celebrate Africa Freedom Day, some Africans are entrenching slavery away from liberation, others are moving closer and closer to become a slaves where free thinking and free living will be punished.

As the rest of Africa curtailed towards freedom of press, of free speech, free conscience, conscious, free assembly, other Africans are moving towards enslaving, some political thinking and free assembly and picket/demonstrate criminalized.

As we celebrate AFRICA FREEDOM DAY there are currently 72 journalists imprisoned in Africa. More than half the jailed journalists are held in that scourge of media freedom.

The most disturbing news to come out of CPJ’s recent report on journalists behind bars, is that the trend of imprisoning journalists – often on trumped-up charges – has seen a sharp increase over the last decade.  Since 1996; in 2000 there were only 81 imprisoned journalists, but since then the number has been on the increase. 

Although “only” perhaps isn’t the right word, as every one of those imprisoned in at the beginning of this decade, and all of those in jail now, are not merely statistics, but individuals whose lives – and careers – have been irrevocably altered by their time behind bars. 

In Africa, by far the largest numbers of journalists are jailed in Eritrea, where, according to CPJ, there are currently 72 journalists in prison (the second-highest total in the world, after Iran).

What are we to celebrate if there’s no freedom of picketing and freedom of expression? 

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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