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World Press Freedom Day: 16 journalists reported dead in line of duty

Kisii Based journalists during a procession to mark the World Press Freedom Day in Kisii town. [Sammy Omingo, Standard)

At least 16 journalists across the world have lost their lives in the line of duty since the year began, Eastern Africa Editors Society (EAES) says.

The revelation was made at a time when journalists across the world were marking World Press Freedom Day at the Africa Media Convention that has been underway in Arusha, Tanzania since May 1. The convention brought together journalists from across the continent.

In a statement made by the EAES, the new statistics come when the committee was still investigating 17 out of the 28 journalist deaths recorded last year.

The statement was made by a council member of the Kenya Editors’ Guild Prof. George Nyabuga.

“While this number was lower than the previous year, it is a stark reminder that journalism continues to be a dangerous job. We lost journalists in Somalia, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, DRC,” Prof. George Nyabuga of EAES stated.

Then went on “In Uganda, authorities arrested nine journalists in March this year for what they termed “involvement in offensive communication and promoting hate speech.”

According to EAES, the journalists arrested from Alternative Digital in Uganda were identified as Mukose Arnold, Faridah Bikobere, Jeremiah Mukiibi, Tumusiime Kato, Tulyahabwe Roger, Nabukeera Teddy Teangle, Lillian Luwedde and Wabyona Jeje Jacob.

EAES is the umbrella body that brings together professional editors in the region, through their national organisations. Currently, the membership includes the Ethiopia Editors Guild, the Uganda Editors Guild, the Kenya Editors Guild, and the Tanzania Editors Forum.

The editors have also reported that ‘media regulation is going through new stress in Kenya, as the co-regulatory mechanism is tested in significant ways.'

Additionally, the Committee to Protect Journalists says at least seven journalists have also lost their lives covering the Russia-Ukraine war this year.

“At least 7 journalists have been killed covering the war in Ukraine. These are their names and stories... CPJ is investigating five other journalist deaths in the war to determine if they were work-related,” CPJ tweeted on Tuesday evening.

On the other hand, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan ordered a review of the media law to promote press freedom in the country.

She made the remarks during her address to the media convention in Arusha, where she strongly warned against irresponsible journalism.

President Suluhu directed the Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology to collaborate with media stakeholders to review the Media Services Act of 2016 to enable journalists and media houses to carry out their duties freely.

“come up with better and friendly laws and regulations that would protect journalists and open more space for the freedom of expression and the media,” she urged.

In Kenya, the Media Council of Kenya will host over 30 heads of press councils from across the world for their 19th Annual General Meeting of the World Association of Press Councils (WAPC) from May 4 to 6.

The Summit, according to the regulator’s boss David Omwoyo, will bring together policymakers, award-winning journalists, media representatives, specialised NGOs, activists, stakeholders in the field of media, Artificial Intelligence and ICT and legal experts to explore and develop concrete solutions to current and emerging challenges to press freedom and privacy.

“The discussions will also centre around media preparedness in harnessing opportunities and confronting emerging challenges in election coverage, the role of the media in fighting misinformation and mental health as a priority in the post-COVID recovery,” Omwoyo stated.

Furthermore, the Council has promised to share data with stakeholders on the status of various issues affecting press Freedom in the country at the end of the summit.

The summit will be crowned with an awarding ceremony dubbed the 10th Annual Journalism Excellence Awards (AJEA) on the evening of Friday, May 6.