African rights body urges government to intervene in SABC crisis

2016-07-06 21:11
SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. (Simone Kley)

SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. (Simone Kley)

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Johannesburg - The African Commission on Human and People's Rights has sent an urgent letter of appeal to President Jacob Zuma to intervene in the crisis around the SABC's editorial policies or else fall foul of the African Charter.

The commission's country rapporteur for South Africa, Med SK Kaggwa, in the letter said he had received "disturbing reports about alleged violations of the right to freedom of expression and access to information in South Africa".

He said the SABC's decision not to air footage showing protests in which public property was burnt and damaged "amounts to censorship and the denial to the South Africa public of the full picture of what is happening in their country".

He also said he noted the unhappiness from journalists within the public broadcaster over editorial decisions.

Kaggwa said if the situation was not addressed, it would ultimately "infringe on the right of the electorate to receive information in the run-up [to] and during the elections".

He said should the government fail to intervene to improve the situation, it would amount to a failure "to uphold the right to freedom of expression and access to information" as provided for in the African Charter on Human and People's Rights.

State parties to the African Charter "have both a duty to refrain from interfering with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and access to information and an obligation to prevent any other third party from interfering with the enjoyment of the right", he said.

He urged the South African government to ensure that the SABC, as a state institution, respected the African Charter's human rights obligations.

Kaggwa also said he would submit this letter to the commission's meeting in October as well as the relevant African Union organs.

Read more on:    sabc  |  media freedom
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