The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his World Press Freedom Day statement said that while temporary movement constraints are essential to beat back COVID-19, “they must not be abused as an excuse to crack down on journalists’ ability to do their work”.
These words ring true to many journalists across Africa working through the pandemic.
While press freedom has long been a concern in some countries in the region, harassment and violence against journalists have spiked over the past month as many countries institute lockdowns and curfews.
At a time when the world is in dire need of accurate information, many journalists have been harassed for taking their governments to account regarding response strategies, while others are working in environments of increased restrictions with only specific government officials allowed to speak on COVID-19 and without engaging beyond official statements.
The result is that many poor and vulnerable people fall through the gaps in government response approaches.
We asked our members to share their experiences of covering COVID-19 in light of press freedom.