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55 journalists have died in Africa, others from covid-19 —Report

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Report by an international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), The Press Emblem Campaign, has revealed that COVID-19 has killed 55 journalists in 23 countries across Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East.

The NGO which is based in Geneva, Switzerland stated this in a report signed and released on Friday by its Secretary-General, Blaise Lempen, ahead of the World Press Freedom Day 2020 scheduled for Sunday, May 3.

Among the countries where journalists have lost their lives owing to exposing themselves to the novel Coronavirus while reporting the pandemic include Algeria, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Iran, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Togo, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

The NGO said its aim remained to “strengthening the legal protection and safety of journalists in zones of conflict and civil unrest or in dangerous missions.”

It frowned at violation of press freedom that had existed in several countries since the beginning of the pandemic, adding that protective measures for the media had been inadequate since COVID-19 became full-blown in March.

The NGO said, “Journalists are at great risk in this health crisis because they must continue to inform, by going to hospitals, interviewing doctors, nurses, political leaders, specialists, scientists, patients. In various countries, the indispensable protective measures (social distancing, wearing masks, hygiene measures, quarantine) have not been applied, especially at the beginning of the epidemic.

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“The fight against the coronavirus is being used as a pretext by some governments to suppress freedoms of expression, assembly, and demonstration. We condemn these excessive and unjustified violations and call on all States to respect the right of citizens to information and their right to health.”

The group called on governments to allow journalists to objectively report the pandemic without their freedom being gagged or their reportage controlled for political reasons.

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