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SA National Editors’ Forum calls for freeing of photographer Anton Hammerl and other journalists

Sanef calls for freeing of photographer Anton Hammerl and for SA government to make a personal call on Libyan leader to release him

The SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) calls on the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to use his powers to order the immediate release of South African photographer Anton Hammerl and other journalists captured by Libyan forces during the current unrest.

Sanef, with other media NGOs throughout the world, believes that the photographer and other journalists were carrying out legitimate duties in reporting what was taking place in Libya and should not have been prevented by government forces from carrying out a legitimate activity that is approved by the United Nations, of which Libya is a member.

Sanef also calls on the South African government and President Jacob Zuma in particular to use their influence on Gaddafi to secure the release of Hammerl and other journalists.

Sanef is perturbed by reports that President Zuma failed to raise the issue of Hammerl’s detention with the Libyan leader when he headed an African Union delegation in talks with Gaddafi this week. We are, however, encouraged by news that the Department of International Co-operation has sought the help of the United States, among others, to help track the whereabouts of Hammerl.

South Africa subscribes to UN protocols on freedom of the media and has a constitution that enshrines the values of a free media. Sanef believes it is incumbent on the SA government to apply these protocols in its negotiations with Gaddafi.

Sanef urges President Zuma to reinforce Sanef’s call on Gaddafi by making a personal request to Gaddafi for Hammerl’s release and the other journalists.