Experts Call For National Mechanism To Ensure Journalists Safety

by Oluwamuyiwa Oyedele

Media experts have recommended the setting up of a National Response Mechanism (NRM) to address the issue of safety of journalists (SOJ) in Nigeria based on global best practices.

The NRM will be guided by comprehensive legislative framework on protecting the right to life, freedom of expression and associated rights which would be regularly reviewed to ensure that the safeguards and enforcement machinery it provides are robust and effective in practice.

The recommendation for setting up of NRM was made at the one-day stakeholders’ roundtable discussion organised by the International Press Centre (IPC), in Abuja.

The Participants drawn from civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, the media, media associations and regulatory bodies, noted 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.”

The communique issued at the end of the event and made available to BONews Service by Stella Nwofia, IPC Program Manager, read in part 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.”

It was also stated 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.

The roundtable discussion focussed on strengthening mechanisms as well as creating strategic actions to methodically mitigate the various threats to the safety of journalists amidst general violation of press freedom of expression and press freedom, and the shrinking of the civic space in Nigeria.

Speakers at the event included Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda Mr. Mojeed Musikilu, President, Nigeria chapter of the International Press Institute (IPI).

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