The Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists, announced by President Ramaphosa of South Africa on January 2021, was conceptualized over the last five years by members of the African Safety of Journalists Network – an association coordinated by UNESCO in Addis Ababa – the platform was established as a tool to counter violations faced by media. The steering committee was made up of an impressive list of influential groups: The African Editors Forum (TAEF), The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), The Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), UNESCO Addis Ababa Liaison Office to the AU and UNECA, as well as IFEX members the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Article 19.
The timing could not be more judicious. A review of recent attacks against journalists on the continent paints an ugly picture. The lack of interest in carrying out in-depth investigations and bringing perpetrators to justice is fueling the culture of impunity, further emboldening both state and non-state actors to target journalists.
Masters details in this report that though the Platform is currently dealing with “the usual growing pains” of a new organization (technical glitches, gaps in information, etc), there are a lot of opportunities for journalists, civil society, governments, and the African Union to utilize the data as it grows. In particular, journalists and activists see the Platform as an initiative that can enable organizations to better understand the unique challenges of being a female and/or LGBTQ+ journalist in Africa.