Ahead of White House summit, NPC urges African leaders to release imprisoned journalists

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Following is a statement from Jen Judson, President of the National Press Club and Gil Klein, President of the National Press Club Journalism Institute ahead of the convening this week of the White House summit with African Leaders.

“We understand that the Biden administration’s priority in convening this historic summit with nearly 50 African leaders is to deepen relations with the continent. But we urge President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken not to shy away from having tough conversations with African leaders who have presided over a worsening press climate in their countries, including those who have unjustly locked up journalists or tolerated and even encouraged harassment and attacks on reporters. Members of the National Press Club are among those African journalists who are experiencing this egregious and harmful online harassment. We ask the Biden Administration to reiterate the U.S. expectation toward all of its friendly partner countries of a free press and a government culture of transparency.

“More specifically, we urge Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi to release journalists Olivier Makambu and Patrick Lola, who we believe have been imprisoned on spurious grounds. We further call upon the Ethiopian government not to impede the efforts of journalists to report on credible allegations of mass killings and other war crimes committed during the course of fighting in the country’s Tigray region. And, the Burkina Faso government should end its ban on the radio broadcasts of Radio France Internationale.

“The most recent African Media Barometer analysis found recurring patterns in sub-Saharan Africa that impede independent and robust journalism including government-imposed hurdles to information access; political pressure influencing the editorial decisions of state broadcasters; anti-press laws; harassment of journalists, particularly women; and poor working conditions and low salaries for the press. Though some countries including Ivory Coast and Mozambique have improved their press climates, overall press freedom conditions on the continent are very worrisome.”

Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. The Club has 3,000 members representing nearly every major news organization and is a leading voice for press freedom in the U.S. and worldwide.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute promotes an engaged, global citizenry through an independent and free press and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire a more representative democracy. As the non-profit affiliate of the National Press Club, the Institute powers journalism in the public interest.

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SOURCE National Press Club

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