Eastern Africa commemorates World Press Freedom Day 2010 (Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Madagascar)

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UNESCO Offices in Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and Bujumbura, together with the United Nations Communication Group in Tanzania and media stakeholders in the East-African region, have organized the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day 2010 in Zanzibar, the United Republic of Tanzania.

The two-day workshop, which started yesterday, discusses issues related to the theme of this year’s Day, Freedom of Information: the Right to Know. Several journalists and editors from mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar and Pemba islands are attending the commemorations. Participating organizations include the Tanzania Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA), the Forum of Mauritian Journalists, the Journalists’ Unions of Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda, the Media Council of Tanzania, and the University of Antananarivo.

Participants are discussing critical issues facing journalists and media in Eastern Africa, such as press freedom, safety and working conditions of journalists, professional ethical standards, investigative journalism and media as a tool for dialogue and reconciliation. They are divided into four working groups, each focusing on a particular topic:

 culture of impunity and justice for journalists;

 draconian and criminal defamation laws;

 censorship vis-à-vis ethical journalism; and

 conducive working conditions for journalists.

The President of Zanzibar Amaan Abeid Karume is addressing the participants with the keynote speech during the plenary session on 3 May. This session will summarize the debates held at the workshop and adopt a final document to be called Zanzibar Declaration.

This is the first time the Eastern Africa regional commemorations are being held in Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous island that joined the mainland Tanzania in 1964. The status of the island authorizes it to have its own media legislation.

In recent years Zanzibar has initiated various changes related to the media and communication legislation. This process includes the preparation of a new media policy focusing on public and community broadcasting. UNESCO has been supporting the Government of Zanzibar in this initiative.

Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

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