Panafrican News Agency

Coronavirus: RSF pays tribute to six African journos in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic

Paris, France (PANA) - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Monday paid tribute to 30 news heroes (journalists, whistleblowers and the media) around the world, including six Africans, who have distinguished themselves since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by helping to disseminate reliable information which is particularly vital in these times of health crisis.

"Some have taken such risks to inform the reality of the pandemic that they died, when others are still missing or behind bars. Prosecuted, assaulted, insulted, many of them paid the high price for defending the right to information and fighting rumors and misinformation that worsen the consequences of the health crisis. These news heroes remind us that journalism can save lives. They deserve our full attention and admiration," said RSF secretary general, Christophe Deloire, in a new report by the organization.

The report, "The information heroes in the days of the Coronavirus: journalism can save lives", published on Monday, indicates that most of these heroes have in common that they have revealed information demonstrating the gravity of the pandemic or denouncing the mismanagement of the health crisis by the authorities of their countries, while others have escaped prison but can no longer exercise their profession.

Among the African journalists honoured are Comorian Andjouza Abouheir from the newspaper La Gazette des Comores, the program Buenos Dias Guinea (Equatorial Guinea), the editor of the news site Swati Newsweek Eugene Dube (Eswatini), Radio Corona Internationale (Algeria / USA), the Togocheck news site (Togo) and the Wa FM web radio (Cote d'Ivoire).          

Andjouza Abouheir unveiled the mystery of zero cases of coronavirus. At the beginning of April 2020, during the spread of the virus in Africa, the Comoros archipelago seems to be spared. But Abouheir’s investigation revealed that the samples taken from the first suspected cases were never sent for analysis. The revelation shocked the Comorian authorities who identified the journalist's source, and the government threatened to press charges against the journalists who reportedly published "without going through the official channels".

Buenos Dias Guinea (Equatorial Guinea), one of the most popular programs in Equatorial Guinea and one of the few free expression areas in the country, was suspended on May 1, 2020, after criticizing the beatings of passers-by by soldiers responsible for enforcing the containment measures taken against the coronavirus. The seven journalists on the show have been sent home until further notice.

Swati Newsweek editor-in-chief Eugene Dube (Eswatini), after being subjected to lengthy and violent interrogation by the police, was forced into exile in South Africa for the publication of an article calling into question the management of the health crisis by the kingdom. In the midst of a pandemic, the authorities of ex-Swaziland have warned that they will not hesitate to crack down on journalists who criticize King Mswati III, because it comes under “high treason”, a crime punishable by the penalty of dead.     

Radio Corona Internationale (Algeria / USA), a pirate radio station founded by the man of radio and television, Abdallah Benadouda; he was forced to leave Algeria in 2014 after a program which had displeased the authorities. From the United States where he now lives, Abdallah Benadouda, launched Radio Corona Internationale (RCI). The freedom of tone and the humor of the columnists are an antidote to the censorship and repression that have been fallen on the Algerian independent media. "The end of the world radio", as it likes to call itself, broadcasts on Facebook and Soundcloud, and today brings together thousands of listeners.

The information site (Togo) created by the Togolese journalist, Noël Tadegnon, stood out during the COVID-19 pandemic by producing videos in local languages ​​anti-fake news whose objective is to disseminate reliable information to counter the many rumors and beliefs spread about the coronavirus. The use of local languages ​​has helped to widen the audience of this site.

Wa FM (Cote d'Ivoire), a web radio launched by the journalist and founder of the African Media Institute, Israël Guébo, at the end of March 2020, with reference to its content mainly disseminated through WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, very popular in Cote d'Ivoire, has a double objective: to fight against disinformation to thwart the “infox” on the coronavirus and to amplify the messages of sensitization near the Ivorian population to limit the propagation of the pandemic.

"This exceptional crisis has also revealed innovative initiatives which have helped to facilitate the dissemination of information and to combat disinformation," said RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire.

-0- PANA BM/BEH/SOC/KND/VAO 16June2020