The rate of impunity in the case of crimes against journalists has reached "extremely high" levels, the UN has said.
This comes in the wake of
of Standard writer Joseph Masha. Masha collapsed and died in his Kilifi home last week in a case of suspected poisoning.
Unesco said that in Africa, only five of the 131 murders of journalists committed between 2006 and 2015 have been handled in court.
The organisation further said it was concerned by the judicial repression of journalists.
High Court judge Roselyne Aburuli awarded
following a defamation suit he filed against The Standard, arising from his unsuccessful application for the position of Chief Justice in 2011.
She had previously ordered Nation Media Group to pay Lands and Environmental Court Judge Samuel Mukunya Sh20 million as damages in another defamation case.
The rulings have been termed repressive.
"Are judicial officers so sacred that anyone attempting to question their suitability for any promotion becomes a subject of a defamation suit? asked
Edward Wanyonyi, a Kenyan specialist on media law and ethics.
"Are we saying no one should critique the conduct of judicial officers except the magistrates and judges vetting board?"
Wanyonyi said there should be rules or procedures of best practice that guide judges when ruling on matters where their colleagues are litigants.
"Is the judge simply at liberty to determine the awards and in so doing such awards seem to be clearly biased and in favour just by the fact that a litigant is a colleague?" he further asked.
Unesco and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights said they will host judges and lawyers to an inter-regional dialogue in Arusha, on September 10.
The intention is to sensitise them on freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, ways to end impunity and the need to decriminalise defamation.
"Legal protection for journalists in the exercise of their profession is an important prerequisite for freedom of expression," said Frank La Rue, Unesco Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information.
"As long as journalists are at risk of being threatened, arbitrarily detained or killed for informing the public, freedom of expression will be curtailed and society’s ability to make informed choices limited.”
Faith Tlakula said judicial and quasi-judicial human rights mechanisms in Africa play an essential role in respect of freedom of expression, safety of journalists and the end of impunity.
Tlakula is the
chairperson and special rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information in Africa.
She gave the example of the
African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The event in Arusha also aims to encourage more African countries to ratify the court’s protocol so as to become part of the regional judicial body.
African lawyers, judges, law professors, justice ministry personnel from several countries, as well as representatives of non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations defending freedom of expression will take part in the seminar.
The event will be held held in preparation for this year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which will be observed on November 2.