The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) along with several key media forums, have expressed their collective “shock” at the sentencing of three Al Jazeera journalists in Cairo.
The sentiment was expressed by the African Editors Forum, the African Media Initiative and delegates of the 19th session of Highway Africa Conference meeting at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.
The groups have called on the African Union Commission and its chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to intervene.
The journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste were arrested in 2013 and accused of colluding with the Brotherhood, a party that supported the ousted president Mohammed Morsi.
They were sentenced on Saturday by an Egyptian court to three years in prison for broadcasting “false news”.
Greste, who is Australian, was sentenced in absentia after he was deported earlier this year.
In a statement, Sanef executive director, Mathatha Tsedu said: “We, delegates of this biggest gathering of African journalists condemn the continuing repression of media by the military junta ruling Egypt today and call for the release of the journalists and all other detainees being held unjustly.
“We call on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to live up to his stated promise to reverse any conviction of the journalists through a pardon. We further call on African governments to join in this call and do all in their power to force the Egyptian rulers to live by the commitments Egypt made by being a member of the African Union and committing itself to democracy, justice and fairness.” News24