State harassment of journalists in Angola and Gabon

Investigative journalism is activism with integrity – and without sides; without lobbying, for anything but truth on record. Those who seek to crush it have something to hide.

FAIR Press Release: 21/09/2013

The Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) is appalled at the recent arrest, beating and detention of journalists by Angolan special police in the capital Luanda on 20 September 2013, including FAIR member Rafael Marques de Morais.

Three journalists were covering a demonstration against what they called the authoritarian regime of President José Eduardo dos Santos, and according to media reports were arrested and forced to lie face down in the police van and trampled by agents of the Rapid Intervention Police (PIR).

Maka Angola (www.makaangola.org) and CPJ (www.cpj.org) note that Angolan officers put the journalists in a car and drove them to police headquarters, where they were released with an apology after five hours. Marques said that police returned the equipment they had confiscated, but that a camera that was worth US$2,000 had been destroyed.

FAIR Board Chairperson Mzilikazi wa Afrika explains “there is a war on terror in play in Africa and this war is waged against journalists. It has become the norm that authoritarian parties, using legacies of African liberation movements comprise the biggest threat to press freedom. Many of them – like South Africa’s ANC, born of freedom fighting vanguards, later transformed into a culture of power-hungry politicians. It is they who regard the press as ‘opposition’. But once, the very same press championed for the cause they fought for in the name of justice. Journalists were arrested and detained, some even forced into exile, for writing stories that were deemed to be in support of these revolutionary movements. today the same political organizations have turned against the press.”

FAIR Editor K. Sharife added “FAIR condemns unreservedly such action and will fight for protection of investigative journalists like Rafael. By committing such acts the armed Angolan regime have revealed themselves as cowards and bullies disguising their fears and weaknesses with guns and force.”

Recently South African journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika was prevented from entering Gabon due to his profession. Wa Afrika arrived at the Libreville International Airport on Thursday evening, 19 September 2013 and was told by immigration officials he wasn’t allowed through without permission because he is a journalist. “We had been forced to sleep on a bench, without any provision of water, coffee or food”.

FAIR calls on African media houses, journalists, Editors, producers and publishers to raise the voice of press freedom in Africa by reporting further on state harassment of journalists, which continues daily, unabated and with increasing violence.

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