Press release

ECOWAS: Positive steps towards a legal framework on freedom of expression but more work is needed

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ARTICLE 19

05 Dec 2012

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ARTICLE 19 welcomes movement towards a regional legal framework for freedom of expression in West Africa but urges that more work needs to be done. Discussions by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) about a draft Supplementary Act on a Uniform Legal Framework on Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information in West Africa have shown that progress is being made. The document incorporates many important protections for freedom of expression. However, it is too focused on the media, says little on the internet and communication technologies, and needs to better set out remedies.

“We appreciate that civil society organisations and media support organisations were associated in the development of this draft but call upon the ECOWAS to hold wider consultations on the current draft. Key stakeholders need to give their input before the final adoption of the draft Supplementary Act on a Uniform Legal Framework on Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information in West Africa”, said Fatou Jagne Senghor, ARTICLE 19 Regional Representative for West Africa

“There are other crucial issues including the Internet that still need to be addressed” she added.

ARTICLE 19 has observed that many ECOWAS states have grave challenges concerning freedom of expression and freedom of information. The ECOWAS region has proved a particularly volatile area in terms of journalists’ safety. The additional protections given in the draft are crucial and need adoption.

The draft is being considered by the ECOWAS Technical Committee on Legal and Judicial Affairs. It would set up a comprehensive framework on freedom of expression and information that the 15 Member States would have to implement fully in their countries. 

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