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30 Media Workers Arrested In 38 Days In West Africa
MONROVIA, February 20 (LINA) – Thirty 30 media workers have been arrested, detained and/or assaulted by security forces in West Africa within a period of 38 days, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has reported.
MFWA said this is prompting fears that the gains that have been made in recent years on press freedom and freedom of expression could be eroded.
The 30 victims, made up of 15 journalists and 15 media technicians, who were arrested, detained and/or assaulted between January 5 - February 12 in 10 separate incidents in four countries, namely Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Togo.
Nigeria recorded six incidents, Cote d’Ivoire two while Guinea and Togo accounted for an incident each.
In Nigeria, seven journalists were arrested and detained during the period.
In Cote d’Ivoire, six journalists were arrested and detained in a single incident while one journalist each was affected in Guinea and Togo, bringing the total number of journalists affected to 15.
In respect of the other media workers, nine staff of a newspaper printing firm were arrested in single incident.
In Cote d’Ivoire, six technicians working with the state-owned television station were also arrested in a single incident.
MFWA said the recent crackdown is a frightening flashback to the gross human rights abuses, including freedom of expression rights violations witnessed in the sub-region during the days of military dictatorship in the 1970s and 80s.
Meanwhile, all the four countries in which these violations occurred have legal frameworks that guarantee media freedom.
The MFWA, therefore, urgently appeals to authorities in the West Africa region, especially authorities in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, to abide by their national constitutions as well as regional and international treaties that require them to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression.
The MFWA also urges all countries in the region to take urgent steps to bring a halt to the increasing attacks on journalists and media workers.