We the participants from five East African countries meeting at the Turning the Page of Hate conference, held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania on May 12-13th 2015,
Having considered the importance of ethical journalism to the mission of media in building democracy and promoting fair, inclusive and pluralist information for all,
Believing that there should be a renewal of the Africa-wide struggle to combat attempts to use media as instruments of propaganda, hatred and violence,
Noting the violence in recent months inspired by terrorists in Kenya; the continuing shadows of community violence in Burundi; and fears of intense hatred and even acts of violence during the coming months in advance of the general selection in Tanzania,
Considering it a matter of urgency for journalists to eliminate the voices of intense hatred and incitement and to reaffirm the importance of free media and ethical journalism are cornerstones of democracy and vital to the creation of unified, peaceful and tolerant society, particularly at times of election,
Insisting that hate speech, which incites violence and intense hatred between communities, must be exposed, isolated and eliminated without undermining ethical journalism and press freedom,
Noting the tendency of media on all platforms to sensationalise information and to use stereotypes and clichés, particularly in regard to violence against women and gender discrimination, which reinforce the conditions in which hate speech can flourish,
We Declare our support for the Turning the Page of Hate campaign and urge journalism and media leaders in Africa to work together in a renewed effort to strengthen quality journalism to be practised in safe conditions across the continent.
In particular, participants call upon the government and all political leaders in Tanzania to respect the freedom of the press and ensure that journalists operate in a safe environment.
We call on the government and all political parties and community leaders, including within the religious communities, to ban all forms of hate-speech within their own ranks and during the upcoming election period;
The participants further call on media owners, editors and journalists to boycott hate speech or any language that can stir violence and to promote ethical standards at all levels of the press, broadcasting and online communications;
The meeting agrees to circulate the materials and tools provided at this meeting – including a 5-point test to combat hate speech in media – to all media and journalists’ groups;
We further urge more solidarity between media to develop joint demands as a form of media manifesto for freedom to report the elections in Tanzania. Such a manifesto should guarantee access to information on the election process; ensure journalists are able to report freely without intimidation; establish editorial independence from undue political and commercial pressure; and guarantee the right of all journalists, including women media staff, to report freely, without discrimination and safely during the election.
The meeting also notes the deep crisis of employment and corruption that affects many of the journalists, most of them freelance, working in Tanzanian media and calls on media owners to take urgent action to improve the status and conditions in which journalists work.
The meeting also calls upon the Tanzanian Parliament to review provisions in the Statistics Act as well as the Cyber Crime Act which may violate the freedom of the press as well as the right to information.
Finally, the meeting urges media organisations, journalists’ groups and media support bodies across Africa, and East Africa in particular, are urged to further develop the campaign for quality journalism and an end to hate speech. Media and journalists should join together to raise awareness of the need to combat hate, to eliminate corruption and to strengthen ethical standards in lines with the objectives of the Turning the Page of Hate campaign.
Finally, we thank the Tanzanian Chapter of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, the Ethical Journalism Network for the organisation of this meeting.