A Congress of African Journalists (CAJ) has been launched by leaders of African Journalism organizations to face the current challenging effects of COVID-19 and the collateral impacts on press freedom, the safety of journalists, access to information, affecting journalists in the course of their work.
At the inaugural meeting to launch the Congress hosted by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), journalists from Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, and Zimbabwe were in attendance.
An Interim Governing Council of six (6) members presided by Alexandre Niyungeko (President of Union of Burundi Journalists) was set up by the congress.
Other members of the Interim Governing Council consist of Foster Dongozi (Secretary-General of Zimbabwe Union of Journalists) Vice-President, William Oloo, (Chairman of Kenya Correspondents Association) Secretary, Patricia Adjissekou (Secretary-General of Togo Union of Independent Journalists) Treasurer; Christopher Isiguzo, (President of Nigeria Union of Journalists), and Aicha Ahmed Youssouf (President of Djibouti Union of the Press and Audiovisual).
In the inaugural speech, the interim president called on various governments in the African continent to see to the affairs of journalists, especially during this pandemic.
“On the launch of this Congress of African Journalists, we commend all African journalists for their dedication to press freedom and access to information for the general public.
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“We call on African Governments to empower the journalists and media organizations to do their work efficiently in this trying moment of COVID19.
“Reports have noted that many journalists have fallen sick or died of COVID19, and others have been victimized in the course of their duties as essential workers in the frontline to inform the general public. We condole with the victims and their families.
“The CAJ condemns all attacks on journalists and calls for the release of all journalists in prison in Africa.
“The CAJ will continue to engage with all Governments, the African Union and partners in expanding freedom of expression and access to information for good governance and welfare of the people in Africa.”