Meeting at the annual General Assembly on 9 June 2009 in Helsinki, Finland, IPI members called on governments to respect journalists’ right to self-regulation through voluntary media accountability systems. IPI members condemned recent curbs or proposals to curb self-regulation in Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia.
In Kenya and Botswana laws have been enacted to control media content while in Zambia and Swaziland legislation has been proposed to bring about such curbs. In South Africa, the ruling African National Congress is discussing a media appeals tribunal to effect statutory control of press content.
IPI members condemned these attempts by government to control content and place limitations on the gathering and dissemination of information. In addition, in South Africa, the government proposes to introduce a Protection from Harassment Bill which journalists fear could result in restrictions on news gathering, especially a provision for court trials to be conducted in total secrecy.
IPI members urge the governments of Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia to recognize the important role that independent media play in democracies, and repeal legislation or resist measures that seek to undermine self-regulation.