As South Africa goes to the polls next week Wednesday, May 8, Amnesty International is urging authorities to protect journalists so that they can do their work unhindered.
The renowned rights body said journalists must be allowed to do their work free of harassment, intimidation, and threats.
“Journalists are defenders of the right to freedom of expression, and if they cannot freely do their work, the very essence of our society is attacked,” said Shenilla Mohamed, executive director of Amnesty International SA, whose comments on Friday coincided with World Press Freedom Day.
“A vibrant and free press reporting on the human rights and other related issues that shape our lives is a key building block of any society.
“The digital frontier has added another dimension with Amnesty International South Africa observing a worrying trend of abusive comments, threats and harassment on social media in the run-up to the election.”
Mohamed added: “We call on the authorities, political parties and candidates to publicly commit to providing a conducive environment for journalists to freely carry out their work.
“Journalism is not a crime, and it is every person’s right to seek, receive and share factually correct information and ideas, without fear or unlawful interference.”
On Thursday, SA Police Minister Bheki Cele said 51,306 police officers would be deployed to voting stations on election day. He said some 3,504 reservists would be deployed nationwide.
He said police visibility would be enhanced at voting stations and the results centres.
Cele added that police would monitor protests and make sure that those who want to vote are able to do so.
– African News Agency