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Stakeholders harp on response mechanism for safety of journalists

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Stakeholders have proposed that a national response mechanism be established to guarantee the safety of journalists across the country.

This is contained in a communiqué issued by participants at the roundtable meeting of the International Press Centre (IPC) Nigeria held recently in Abuja.

The communiqué, signed by Stella Nwoga, the Program Officer of the IPCN, noted “That it is imperative to establish a National Response Mechanism (NRM) to address the issue of Safety of Journalists (SOJ) in Nigeria based on global best practices. That there should be wide engagement and consultations with stakeholders who may have important roles to play in the proposed NRM including but not limited to the Federal and state governments, media regulatory bodies, the Directorate of Information of the security and defence agencies, non-state actors such as civil society groups and relevant professional bodies, the bar and the bench, media professional bodies and associations and the National Human Rights Commission.

“The national response mechanism should be guided by comprehensive legislative framework on protecting the right to life, freedom of expression and associated rights. This should be regularly reviewed to ensure that the safeguards and enforcement machinery it provides are robust and effective in practice. That the NRM should secure the buy-in of the law enforcement agencies and for redress and protection mechanisms for journalists who may be victims of harassment or assault.”

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It added that: “That there should be special consultation with the National Council of Women Societies, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), and Ministry of Women Affairs on the specific dangers and harassment faced by female journalists particularly when on the frontlines. That in outlining the mandate of the NRM consideration should be given to investigations into killings, attacks, and ill-treatment of journalists, which must be prompt, effective and impartial, and subject to public scrutiny. That there should be sensitisation and awareness-raising on the necessity for the NRM.”

The event which was organized in a bid to address the threats facing journalists had twenty-five participants from civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, the media, media associations and regulatory bodies, among others, and was organised under the project themed “Contextualising and Publicising Real Costs and Mobilising Against Increasing Violation of Media Freedom, Journalists Rights and Freedom of Expression”.

Two presentations entitled “Establishing National Response mechanism on Safety of Journalists: An Examination of Global Trends” and Response Mechanism on Safety of Journalists: Experience and Lessons from Engagement with Security Agencies and Government were delivered by Mr. Edetaen Ojo, the Executive Director of the Media Rights Agenda and Mr. Mojeed Musikilu, the Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times Nigeria respectively.

By Mohammed Taoheed

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