African Free Press (AFP), an African continental media organization committed to free speech, press freedom and protection of media rights in Africa today in Abuja unveiled its plan to host the maiden edition of the Africa Press Freedom Awards and Benefit Dinner in honor of journalists who are victims of the hazards of the media profession.
In a release made available to the press in Abuja, the Chief Executive Officer of African Free Press and founder Press Freedom Awards (Africa) Mr. Clem Aguiyi bemoaned the plight of journalists and called for a comprehensive action plan to protect the media and media practitioners from both states and non state actors.
‘Journalists across Africa face a lot of professional hazards and challenges trying to report news and inform the public of critical events. There are reported cases of journalists being threatened , harassed , brutalized and unlawfully detained in the course of doing their job. There are cases of journalists who were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, targeted for murder and often times murdered with impunity. This has been a global trend. In Nigeria for instance , the number of journalists killed since 1992 is well over 30′ with hundreds brutalized , assaulted or detained’ , Mr. Aguiyi said.
It is against the backdrop of challenges faced by media practitioners, that African Free Press AFP is driving the initiative to honor veterans and active media practitioners in an event tagged AFP Press Freedom Awards and Benefit Dinner (Africa).
According to Mr. Aguiyi, ‘the purpose of the Press Freedom Awards is to promote free society, access to information, free speech and press freedom through the recognition of brave and courageous media practitioners who have risked their lives to report critical news events’.
Answering questions from newsmen, Mr. Aguiyi stated that Awards will be given to REPORTERS who have faced threats, physical injury, legal action, imprisonment or targeted for murder. Seasoned Media Practitioners who have shown extra ordinary brilliance and courage will be recognized with the Life Time Achievement Awards and the Distinguished Service Awards respectively while the Friend of the Media Awards and Medal will be given to a politically exposed persons who actively supports press freedom and media access to information.
Mr. Aguiyi solicited the support of journalists across Africa towards the success of the upcoming event. He asked journalists to individually and collectively own the Press Freedom Award event as a media project as the success of the event will go a long way in advancing the cause of press freedom and media rights in Africa.