So this is Democracy? State of media freedom in Southern Africa 2005

Date: April 10, 2012
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This 12th installment of So This Is Democracy? document the numerous media freedom and freedom of expression violations that MISA recorded in the southern African region in 2005. Exposing these media freedom alerts help focus international attention on those responsible for such violations. Between January and December 2005, MISA recorded a total of 155 media freedom and freedom of expression violations against individual journalists and institutions in the SADC region. Although this figure marks a decrease of 8.3 percent from the previous year, MISA believes the perpetrators of violations are reviewing their tactics such that fewer ‘conventional’ violations are being recorded. No journalists were killed in 2005 and fewer journalists were arrested compared to 2004. In fact, we have witnessed several victories with respect to the number of recorded incidents where charges were dropped against journalists. However, state organs are infiltrating the media in an attempt to control it from within as in the case of the much-publicized ‘Mediagate’ in Zimbabwe. Similarly, the courts À“ not government officials or police officers À“ are the leading oppressors of media freedoms. On a number of occasions sentences handed down in civil defamation suits have had a financially crippling effect on private and community media. Advances with regard to the enactment of access to information legislation were noted in 2005. However, such advances are slow and beg the question whether our governments are commitment to establishing an enabling environment for media freedom, and thus empowering the electorate to claim their rights to access information. In all, this publication remains an important historical document detailing events affecting media workers in most of southern Africa during 2005. It should prove valuable not only to media activists but also to scholars and others interested in plotting the trends and identifying the various devices used to undermine media freedom and the free flow of information.

ISBN: 99916-62-12-X
Publisher: MISA
Year of Publication: 2005

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