Contra Nocendi International and Contra Nocendi Cameroon have been vocal advocates in support of press freedom in our countries of operation and globally. The issue of efforts to potentially erode press freedom are not limited to just one country in Africa. The new legislation in Mozambique, which seeks to raise journalist registration fees to absurd levels should be a stark reminder of how vigilant all of us who believe in press freedom in Africa should be.
Before commenting further, we must give credit to Lawrence Mute, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, for raising concerns about the recent developments In Mozambique. Continued engagement on the part of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and its mandate-holders on the issue of press freedom in Africa is vital. As the Special Rapporteur stated, “Prohibitively high fees may have the effect of closing media space, thereby undermining Mozambique’s obligation to implement Article 9 of the African Charter.”i CNI and CN Cameroon completely agree. It is clear that administrative costs may require the imposition of reasonable fees, but the very high costs of registration fees are causes of concern.
Contra Nocendi International and Contra Nocendi Cameroon call on all parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to respect their Article 9 obligations to protect press freedom. Beyond the rights of journalists, the freedom of information and press freedom of key elements are necessary for an informed electorate. All African citizens should be afforded access to information, including from journalists, so that they can keep themselves informed of what is going on in their country. A strong free press in a Member State should be seen as a badge of honour for all governments.