2023 marked a year of peril for journalists and the very essence of journalism in Africa. The Network of African Investigative Reporters and Editors (NAIRE) has now released a resolute 2024 call to action, responding to the alarming rise in threats, imprisonments, and even the murder of journalists across the continent.

The dire situation, as outlined by NAIRE, reveals a continent where at least eight journalists were killed and 67 imprisoned last year, with countless others facing intimidation.

The root of this crackdown? Regimes are led by kleptocrats who, in NAIRE’s words, “sell out resources, promote incompetence and nepotism, and harass and oppress civil society.”

These leaders not only suffocate the truth but also fund disinformation to overshadow journalistic efforts to uncover injustices and hold the elite accountable.

NAIRE underscores the broader, damaging impact of these corrupt leaders, linking their actions directly to issues like migration and climate change. They question how migration from Africa can decrease when rulers benefit from it through increased passport fees and involvement in human trafficking. Similarly, they challenge the effectiveness of efforts to combat climate change and deforestation when funds meant for these causes end up in corrupt pockets.

Despite these challenges, NAIRE draws strength from the increased threat perception by political leaders towards journalists, seeing it as a testament to their growing impact. The reports by African investigative journalists have been echoing the continent’s increasing cry for freedom, a plea that NAIRE insists must reach international ears, particularly in major global capitals like London, Paris, New York, Moscow, Tehran, and Beijing.

2023 was a year of significant achievements for NAIRE, with their work gaining traction in international media. However, they recognize the need for greater visibility in 2024, stressing the urgency of the situation in Africa. Without the amplification of their voices and support for free media and democracy, the continent faces a grim future marked by intensified drought, conflict, and instability.

NAIRE’s call to action extends beyond their journalistic duties. They seek to engage with civil societies, enhance their presence on social media, and forge stronger ties with international journalists and pro-democracy forces. The goal is not just to report but to effect tangible change, emphasizing the role of credible media in fostering democracy, transparency, and accountability.

The group remains committed to using the platform associated with NAIRE not only for broadcasting their efforts but also as a vital resource for editorial, security, legal, and psychological support, which is starkly lacking in many African nations. Moreover, there is a concerted push to establish more professional media platforms within Africa, with the support of international advocates for democracy and free media.

This manifesto, signed by 22 NAIRE members from diverse African nations, is more than a statement; it’s a roadmap for 2024, charting a course for journalists in Africa to not only survive but thrive in their pursuit of truth and justice.

The full statement, along with recent NAIRE publications, can be accessed here.

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