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On this World Press Freedom Day, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) expresses solidarity with journalists, media professionals, and all those who support freedom of expression. We celebrate the bravery and devotion of those who report facts despite adversity and confirm our pledge to safeguard and promote press freedoms throughout Southern Africa.

In 2024, World Press Freedom Day is dedicated to the importance of journalism and freedom of expression in the current global environmental crisis.

Journalists face significant challenges when gathering and sharing information about the polarising state of politics, climate change, war, terrorism, and inequality. It is essential to highlight these issues to encourage peace and democratic values globally.

Misinformation about environmental issues can lead to a lack of public and political support for climate action, effective policies, and protecting vulnerable communities affected by climate change. It can also increase existing inequalities, particularly for women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by climate change.

Disinformation poses a significant threat to the quality of public debate and informed decision-making, both essential for a healthy democratic process; it also distorts the truth, manipulates public opinion, and creates distrust in institutions and media.  

According to the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS), every region of the continent has been targeted by disinformation campaigns, with a minimum of 39 individual African countries targeted for a specific disinformation campaign. The research group notes that nearly 60% of the identified disinformation campaigns on the continent are from foreign actors who exploit the ever-evolving and growing digital platforms to reach African citizens and journalists and exert influence. This has encouraged and enabled rogue state actors across Africa to increasingly integrate disinformation into their political playbooks, notably during Kenya’s 2022 and Nigeria’s 2023 elections 


Today, as we remember this momentous day, we should acknowledge the crucial role of a free press in upholding democracy and the rule of law. The press is not just a fundamental aspect of democracy but also serves as a watchful guardian of human rights, holding those in power accountable and providing a voice for those who may not have one.


In the past, SALC has noted developments and often supported landmark cases that have sought to defend and expand the boundaries of press freedom:

  • In Mozambique, we expressed solidarity with Ericino de Salema, a journalist who faced abduction and assault due to his critical views on governance. His case underscores the urgent need for states to protect journalists and ensure their safety.
  • The case of Basildon Peta, Chief Executive Editor of the Lesotho Times, represents our ongoing struggle against the misuse of criminal defamation laws. Peta’s prosecution for publishing an article about a former Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force is a stark reminder of the current challenges.
  • In Angola, journalists Rafael de Morais and Mariano Lourenço were tried for exposing corruption, highlighting the need to protect media from abusive security laws.
  • The declaration of a journalist and an online publishing platform as terrorist entities in Eswatini is another issue that has not gone unnoticed in the infringement of press freedoms in the region.
  • Our ongoing support extends to Botswana, where we challenge Section 59 (1) of the Penal Code. The case of Tshepo Junior Sethibe, who faces charges for publishing ‘alarming statements’, is a critical battle for the right to freedom of expression.


These cases are just a few examples of journalists’ ongoing challenges. On World Press Freedom Day, we urge all countries to reaffirm their commitment to press freedom, avoid using security laws to restrict media independence and ensure that legislation promotes free expression rather than hinders it.


Together, let us work towards a future where press freedom is not just a principle to be celebrated once a year but a lived reality for all.


The international community must redouble its efforts to create an environment where press freedom can flourish, journalists can work without fear, and the truth can be spoken to power.

Happy World Press Freedom Day!