PRESS STATEMENT : AMI, Int’l Human Rights Groups And Press Organizations Make Recommendations on Freedom of Expression in Doha International Conference

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PRESS STATEMENT

AMI, Int’l Human Rights Groups And Press Organizations Make Recommendations on Freedom of Expression in Doha International Conference

Nairobi, 28 July 2017: The African Media Initiative (AMI) was invited to participate in a two-day international Conference on Freedom of Expression in Doha, Qatar. The conference, which was organized by the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) of Qatar in cooperation with the International Federation of Journalists and the International Press Institute under the theme “Freedom of Expression: Facing Up to the Threat”, took place on July 24-25, 2017.

AMI’s Chief Executive Office, Eric Chinje, and Senior Advisor Wangethi Mwangi, represented the pan-African media organization as part of 200 participants from around the world.

Recommendations of the International Conference “Freedom of Expression, Facing up to the Threat”

Doha, Qatar 24-25 July 2017
We, representatives of international, regional and national organisations of journalists, human rights and freedom of expression groups meeting at the International Conference in Doha, Qatar on 24-25 July 2017, organised by the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar in co-operation with the International Federation of Journalists and the International Press Institute,
Condemn unequivocally the threats by the governments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Bahrain, demanding the closing down of Al Jazeera and other media outlets, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.

and

Express our total solidarity with journalists and other media and ancillary workers at Al Jazeera and other targeted media.

 

This Conference recommends: 
ON SAFETY OF JOURNALISTS
Conference recognizes the numerous resolutions adopted in recent years by the UN General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council deploring the impact of attacks against journalists and other media workers on the public’s right to information and freedom of expression, and expressing concern at the chilling effect that such attacks, especially when perpetrated with impunity, have on the media as a whole.

Conference also expressly recognizes that the work of media professionals often places them at specific risk of intimidation, harassment and violence (UN Security Council Resolution 2222 (2015), UN Human Rights Council Resolution 33/2 of 29 September 2016, and UN General Assembly Resolution 70/162 of 17 December 2015 on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity). In addition, it has been widely recognized that ensuring accountability for all forms of violence against journalists and other media professionals is a key element in preventing future attacks.

Conference supports the developing of a new binding international instrument dedicated to the safety of journalists, including a specific enforcement mechanism, which would improve the international response to attacks against journalists and the culture of impunity. A Convention on the Safety of Media Workers, potentially negotiated within the UN General Assembly, would present the advantage of systematizing the relevant obligations inferable from multiple legal texts and making them more accessible to decision-makers and law-enforcement authorities and bringing together the applicable human rights and humanitarian law norms, tailoring them to the situation of journalists.

Such a Convention includes, for example, the obligation to protect journalists against attacks on their life, arbitrary arrest, violence and intimidation campaigns, the obligation to protect against forced disappearances and kidnapping (by state agents or private actors), the obligation to carry out effective investigations into alleged interferences and to bring the perpetrators to justice; in the context of armed conflict, the obligation to treat media workers and facilities as civilians (and hence illegitimate targets) and to conduct military operations with due diligence in such a way as to avoid unnecessary risks to journalists reporting on the conflict.

Conference finally believes that current legal provisions should be expanded beyond the obligation to protect journalists against attacks on their life, and include forced disappearances and kidnapping (by state or private actors), arbitrary arrest, intimidation, deportation/refusal of entry, confiscation/damage to property and new forms of violence experienced by journalists during the 2011 Arab Spring, and further develop Human Rights Council resolutions S-2/1 and S-9/1 concerning the attacks on media installations and allowing access as well as safe media corridors in conflict zones.

Conference, therefore, calls on governments:

  1. To recognize all recommendations, covenants, declarations and resolutions promulgated or endorsed by international organisations such as the UN and its agencies such as UNESCO;
  2. To implement forthwith the UN latest plan of action and enhance their working with organisations dedicated to the safety of journalists and media workers;
  3. To acknowledge and accept their obligations to give journalists protection as civilians in situations of conflict;
  4. To strengthen national mechanisms and laws, including criminal laws and overhaul justice system to end impunity and to provide judicial and legislative assistance to prevent serious violations of international humanitarian laws including the targeting of journalists.

It also calls on news organisations to acknowledge their duty of care for all their journalists, in particular news gatherers, staff or freelance and their responsibility to provide hostile environment safety training and equipment whether at time of conflict or not.
ON MEDIA FREEDOMS

Believing that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), defined as the freedom “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” along with its corollaries of freedom of information and press freedom, freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of democracy;

Believing also, as set out by UNESCO, that states have a duty to ensure that legislation designed to address national security and crime concerns does not override source protection laws other than in narrowly defined exceptional circumstances and that states legislate to protect the rights of sources;

Conference calls on governments to recognize the right of media organisations to report information freely and without interference from government and to allow citizens to access information on their own government and institutions in the cause of transparency and accountability.

It also calls on governments to limit their ability to curtail media access and set the limits of reporting and access to information and allow transparent and independent adjudication on decisions relating to publication.

Conference also acknowledges the vital role played by trade unions in supporting freedom of expression for journalists and defending the right of journalists to report on often contentious issues and hold power to account.

Recognising the danger in establishing legal limits on expression, and accepting the risks in allowing states the ability intervene on online information, conference calls on governments and media organisations to work to challenge hate speech, including misogyny, racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, and extremism, and to promote the idea that encouraging a plurality of ideas and ideologies is the solution to challenge bigotry and prejudice.

Conference also calls on journalists to respect codes of conduct that demand fairness, accuracy and the need to oppose the scapegoating of minorities and pandering to prejudice and ignorance.

ON INTERNATIONAL WORKERS RIGHTS

Conference recognizes that the freedom of expression and in particular of the media is inextricably linked to the freedom of media workers to carry out their professional role without fear of intimidation or discrimination.

Acknowledging the central role of the International Labour Organization in establishing and implementing global labour standards:

Conference recognizes the vital principles enshrined in the eight fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization, including (i) Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and (ii) Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98).

The right to just and favorable conditions of work is contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Recognizing the ability of trade unions to protect and defend the right to freedom of expression through codes of conduct, the setting of professional standards and collective endeavors,

Conference calls on government to honour the provisions of Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to act in compliance with the conventions of the International Labour Organization.

Participants agree to transmit these recommendations to regional and international institutions and to governments,
Participants recommend that all working papers and reports of workshops are considered as official documents and will be published in agreement with the authors.
Finally, participants express their appreciation and thanks to the National Human Rights Committee of QatarCHR for its efforts to organise the Doha conference and call upon it to continue its work with other concerned parties to implement the adopted recommendations.

 

My task is to help AMI transform the media landscape in Africa – new chair, Aboderin interview

My task is to help AMI transform the media landscape in Africa – new chair, Aboderin interview

My task is to help AMI transform the media landscape in Africa – new chair, Aboderin

 

Who is Mr. Wale Aboderin?

My name is Wale Aboderin, a Nigerian businessman and chairman of PUNCH, Nigeria’s leading newspaper. We publish three print newspapers and two digital newspapers. We also run four major print presses in Nigeria. We have very strong pro-public credentials because of our support for democracy, during the fight against military rule and afterwards, and our campaigns for social justice.

I trained as a commercial pilot at the Burnside-Ott Flying School, Florida, United States. I was appointed chairman of the company’s board of directors in 2012. But I have been involved in the newspaper business for decades. PUNCH was co-founded by my father and he introduced me to the business early. And this experience has helped in fashioning a vision that led to some great changes in the editorial quality, management and its fortunes.

I am also involved in music and sports. I am the founder and owner of Dolphins Basketball Club, a leading African female basketball club, with local and continental honours. I used to be the former chairman of the Lagos State Basketball Association and I am a former member of the Nigerian Handball Federation.

How do you feel about your election as the new chair of the African Media Initiative?

I feel humbled and pleased with this new responsibility, although it comes with the challenges of promoting the vision of a fantastic organization whose potential should not be abridged by limited resources. Thank you for inviting me to join the battle for a strengthened media landscape in Africa.  I have always succeeded in my ventures. I am here to ensure AMI does not fail its mission of transforming the media landscape in Africa.

What is your vision for the organization?

I have always believed that the biggest resource in any organization is human capital and the biggest investment is human development. My people perish for lack of knowledge, says the Good Book. Since I joined AMI board, I have never regretted being part of this beautiful project. The more I stayed, the more I like the organization’s mandate. It is important that we invest in human capital. Punch has already become too big in Nigeria and little by little we have been looking for an opportunity to go regional and AMI is empowering me to go around these countries and push for the initiatives developed by AMI. These trips will help me to rediscover Africa and see the opportunities on the continent.

My vision, to start with, is to focus on making AMI a better and greater organization. If you have a fine dress, everybody will see the missing button. So, I don’t want to see AMI staff as the missing button. I want you people to be engaged and know that there is something great to be done. The other part of the vision is to partner with others to develop the capacity of journalists and media companies across Africa. PUNCH is celebrated for its integrity and had I not seen the same integrity in the leadership and vision of AMI, I wouldn’t have accepted to be part of the project.

I insist that print publishers can still survive but we can’t just sit back and wait for new readers to emerge. It’s time to ‘reinvent the wheel’. 

What do you see as the greatest challenges for African media in the 21st century and what are your thoughts on the future of print media?

Ah! The greatest challenge in this century is digital disruption. The lack of true press freedom is also a big challenge in several places in Africa. But I expect this to become less of a problem as we move forward and the ideals of democracy spread on the continent. For example in Nigeria, PUNCH and other newspapers campaigned against military rule. With democracy, the press is freer although things are not perfect.

The use of mobile phones and other digital devices are growing across Africa. People, especially our teeming population of youth, prefer to get their news from the Internet and social media. My daughters, for example, get their news from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which are also quite popular in Nigeria.

But the future of print in Africa is not as bleak as painted. I always tell my team that a form of growth is still possible. However, as publishers, we would need to moderate our returns on investment expectations. Print publishers shouldn’t expect to be as profitable as they once were. In PUNCH we are exploring cross-media opportunities in a way that would help us to use the newly found strengths of our digital initiatives to help the weaknesses of print. So, African media need to constantly reinvent in order to stay in business and relevant.

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Mr. Wale Aboderin 

new AMI chair

 

Professionnels des médias, représentants des commissions électorales et experts électoraux convergent au Kenya pour discuter des élections

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Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections


Communiqué de presse

Professionnels des médias, représentants des commissions électorales et experts électoraux convergent au Kenya pour discuter des élections

Nairobi, 23 juin 2017 – Une cinquantaine de responsables de haut niveau évoluant dans les secteurs des médias et des élections vont se réunir pendant deux jours pour discuter de la « Couverture des élections en Afrique ». L’atelier se déroulera les 3 et 4 juillet à Nairobi, en présence des participants issus des pays africains appelés à organiser des élections présidentielles ou législatives dans les 18 prochains mois.

Cet atelier est une initiative conjointe de l’Initiative des médias d’Afrique (AMI) et de l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). Il bénéficie également du soutien de l’Institut international pour la démocratie et l’assistance électorale (IDEA).

Les élections constituent un test majeur de la démocratie et de la bonne gouvernance en Afrique depuis au moins les deux dernières décennies au cours desquelles un certain nombre de pays du continent ont réussi à organiser des élections multipartites. L’un des principaux objectifs de l’atelier est de réunir, professionnels des médias, responsables des structures chargées d’organiser les élections et experts électoraux d’Afrique francophone et anglophone pour discuter de manière ouverte et interactive. Il sera question, plus précisément de voir dans quelle mesure une couverture médiatique appropriée peut conduire à parfaire la réussite d’un processus électoral.

Evoquant l’atelier, Eric Chinje, le PDG d’AMI, a déclaré que « les échanges durant ces deux jours offriront aux professionnels des médias une occasion unique de partager leurs expériences et bonnes pratiques mais aussi d’acquérir de solides connaissances auprès de experts impliqués dans l’organisation des élections. Ces échanges mutuellement bénéfiques aideront sans doute à développer un ensemble de connaissances susceptibles d’être partagées à travers le continent ».

Tidiane Dioh, coordonnateur des Programmes des médias de l’OIF pour sa part, demeure convaincu qu’ « une élection ne se limite pas à introduire un bulletin de vote dans l’urne. L’électeur doit disposer de toutes les informations pertinentes sur ceux qui sollicitent les suffrages, sur les enjeux et sur les programmes. Or, seuls des médias professionnels et libres permettent d’assurer une telle information ».

L’atelier se tiendra au Centre de conférence Desmond Tutu à Nairobi, au Kenya. Les pays participants viendront d’Algérie, d’Angola, du Cameroun, de la Côte d’Ivoire, de la République démocratique du Congo, du Gabon, du Kenya, du Libéria, de Madagascar, du Mali, du Rwanda, de la Sierra Leone, du Sénégal et du Zimbabwe.

FIN

Pour plus d’informations, prière de contacter le responsable des relations avec les médias et du rayonnement, Justus Machio, par e-mail à l’adresse suivante jmachio@africanmediainitiative.org, ou par téléphone au numéro : +254700857024

À propos d’AMI

L’Initiative des médias d’Afrique (AMI) est une organisation panafricaine ayant pour but de renforcer les médias privés et indépendants du continent, en mettant l’accent sur les propriétaires et les gestionnaires, afin de promouvoir la gouvernance démocratique, le développement social et la croissance économique. Elle y œuvre grâce à un ensemble d’activités stratégiques visant à transformer le paysage des médias et des communications sur le continent. L’objectif global d’AMI est de promouvoir l’émergence des médias pluralistes en tant qu’ingrédient nécessaire et crucial de la gouvernance démocratique, ainsi que du développement économique et humain en Afrique.

À propos de l’OIF

L’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) a été fondée en 1970 et a son siège social à Paris. Sa mission est d’incarner la solidarité active entre ses 84 États membres et les gouvernements qui, ensemble, représentent plus d’un tiers des États membres des Nations Unies et une population de plus de 900 millions de personnes, dont 274 millions de francophones. L’OIF mène essentiellement des activités de nature politique et des actions de coopération multilatérale au bénéfice des populations sur les cinq continents.

À propos de l’IDEA
L’Institut international pour la démocratie et l’assistance électorale (International IDEA) est une organisation intergouvernementale qui soutient la démocratie durable à travers le monde. La mission d’IDEA International est de favoriser le renforcement des institutions et processus démocratiques, ainsi qu’une démocratie durable, plus efficace et plus légitime. Composé de trente Etats membres, International IDEA travaille dans ses quatre domaines d’expertises: les processus électoraux; la participation et la représentation politique; l’élaboration de constitutions ; et la démocratie et le développement, ainsi qu’en matière de démocratie en relation à l’égalité des genres, la diversité, les conflits et la sécurité. De sa base à Addis-Abeba, le programme Afrique et Asie de l’Ouest d’IDEA International collabore étroitement avec les acteurs nationaux et les organisations régionales pour réaliser des activités dans plus de 40 pays. Les priorités du programme sont le constitutionnalisme, le dialogue entre les partis politiques, l’intégrité électorale, la gouvernance des ressources naturelles, la participation des jeunes et la représentation des femmes.

Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections

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Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections


Press Statement

Media Practitioners, Electoral Representatives and Election Experts Converge in Kenya to Discuss Elections

 Nairobi, 23 June 2017 – Some 50 high-level media practitioners, representatives of electoral bodies and election experts will meet over two days to discuss the ‘Covering of Elections in Africa’. The workshop will be held on July 3- 4 in Nairobi, bringing together 13 countries from both Anglophone and Francophone Africa that are preparing to conduct elections over the next 18 months. 

This workshop is a combined effort of the African Media Initiative (AMI) and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). It is also benefiting from the additional support of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

Elections have always been an important feature of the democratic and governance structure in Africa and the last two decades have seen a number of countries on the continent organise multi-party polls. One of the key objectives of the workshop is to bring together the media, representatives of electoral bodies and election experts from both Francophone and Anglophone Africa to discuss in a frank, open and interactive manner. The discussion will focus on what can be done to better understand elections and, in the process; help consolidate the quality of reporting.

Speaking about the workshop, Eric Chinje, CEO of AMI, said “the two-day deliberations will offer a unique forum for sharing experiences and expertise, and gaining valuable knowledge from professionals who have been closely involved in the running and coverage of elections.” Chinje hopes that this cross-fertilization of ideas will help towards the development of a body of knowledge that can be shared across the continent.

Tidiane Dioh, Coordinator of the Media Programme at OIF, is convinced that “elections are much more than casting one’s vote”. According to him, “the voter must have access to a whole array of relevant information concerning the electoral process and such a role and responsibility remains the purview of a free, independent and professional media”.

The workshop will be held at the Desmond Tutu Convention Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Participating countries are Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Zimbabwe.

END

For more information, kindly contact AMI’s Media Relations Manager, Justus Machio, via e-mail on jmachio@africanmediainitiative.org or on +254700857024

About AMI

The African Media Initiative (AMI) is a pan-African organization that seeks to strengthen the continent’s private and independent media sector from an owner and operator perspective to promote democratic governance, social development and economic growth. It does so through a set of strategic activities aimed at transforming the media and communications landscape on the continent. AMI’s overall goal is to promote the development of pluralistic media as a necessary and critical ingredient of democratic governance, as well as economic and human development in Africa.

About OIF

The International Organisation of La Francophonie was created in 1970 and has its head office in Paris. Its mission is to embody the active solidarity between its 84 member states and governments which together represent over one-third of the United Nations’ member states and account for a population of over 900 million people, including 274 million French speakers. OIF organises political activities and actions of multilateral cooperation that benefits people living in the five continents.

About IDEA
The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. International IDEA’s mission is to support sustainable democratic change by providing comparative knowledge, and assisting in democratic reform, and influencing policies and politics. Composed of thirty member states, International IDEA works across four key impact areas, notably: electoral processes; political parties representation & participation; constitution-building and democracy and development. It also addresses the important issues of gender, diversity, and conflict and security as they relate to democracy. From its base in Addis Ababa, the Africa and West Asia (AWA) programme of International IDEA collaborates closely with both national actors and regional organizations and has a footprint in over 40 countries. Priorities include constitutionalism, inter-party dialogue, electoral integrity, natural resource governance, youth participation and women’s representation.

 

The African Media initiative announces the election of a new Board Chair

The African Media initiative announces the election of a new Board Chair

PRESS RELEASE

The African Media initiative announces the election of a new Board Chair

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Nairobi, 19 June 2017 — The Board of AMI has elected Mr. Wale Aboderin as the new Chair of the organization. He will be taking over from the maiden chair, Mr. Trevor Ncube, Executive Vice-chairman of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian, who has steered the organization since its inception in 2008. The organization thanks Mr. Ncube, and his early co-Chair, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, for the valuable support and guidance of AMI during its formative years.

Mr. Wale Aboderin, a Nigerian businessman is the Chairman of PUNCH, Nigeria’s leading newspaper group headquartered in Lagos. PUNCH publishes three print and two digital newspapers, and runs four major print presses across Nigeria.

Mr. Aboderin trained as a commercial pilot at the Burnside-Ott Flying School, Florida, United States. He was appointed chairman of the company’s board of directors in 2012. His tenure has witnessed groundbreaking changes in the editorial quality, management and fortunes of PUNCH, including a hugely successful redesign, the launch of several digital initiatives and the newspaper’s win of several local and international awards.

A popular sports enthusiast in Nigeria, Mr. Aboderin is the founder and owner of Dolphins Basketball Club, a leading African female basketball club, with local and continental honours. He is a former chairman of the Lagos State Basketball Association and a former member of the Nigerian Handball Federation.

“I thankfully accept this role and I believe AMI should help African media bridge the communication gap between policymakers and the citizens to allow for a two-way feedback engagement,” Mr Aboderin said. “During my tenure I will champion the AMI cause everywhere and ensure that Africans stop being suspicious about homegrown initiatives and support this organization.”

Mr Eric Chinje, CEO of the African Media Initiative, stated: “With more than two decades of direct involvement in media, Mr Wale brings a wealth of experience to the organization. He will surely help AMI refocus its work around the four major pillars of activity around which a new strategy is being developed: strengthening media capacity (thematic specialization); content development and promotion; research; and performance incentives for media professionals.”

About AMI
The African Media Initiative (AMI) is a pan-African organization that seeks to strengthen the continent’s private and independent media sector with a view to promoting democratic governance, social development and economic growth. It does so through a set of strategic activities aimed at transforming the media and communications landscape on the continent. AMI’s overall goal is to promote the development of pluralistic media as a necessary and critical ingredient of democratic governance, as well as economic and human development in Africa.

ZIMEO EXCELLENCE IN MEDIA AWARDS ARE NOW OPEN

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ZIMEO EXCELLENCE IN MEDIA AWARDS

ARE NOW OPEN

Call for Entries for the Second Edition

Nairobi, 5th August 2016 – The African Media Initiative is pleased to invite applications for the Second Edition of the Zimeo Excellence in Media Awards. The contest is open to professional journalists in Africa reporting or writing for print, radio, TV and digital and will recognize journalism excellence in the following categories:

1. Gender/Women’s rights
2. The youth agenda
3. Maritime economy
4. Business and finance
5. Science and Technology
6. Agriculture and food security
7. Health
8. Education
9. Peace and security
10. Energy & infrastructure
11. Extractive industries
12. Media and digital journalism
13. Conservation and climate change
14. African Union Agenda 2063
15. Sustainable Development Goals Reporting

Interested journalists are encouraged to present either single stories/articles or thematic packages in the following languages, English, French, Portuguese, Arabic and Kiswahili.

What are the Judges looking for?

Our pan African panel of judges will be looking for entries which:

• Demonstrate a high quality of reporting/writing in terms of originality, depth, rigour, research, investigative enterprise, innovativeness, clarity, proper sourcing, fairness, accuracy, exhaustive analysis of the context and background and an above average understanding of the subject matter.
• Are data-driven and use creative digital tools like mapping, crowdsourcing and visualization to help tell the story.
• Communicate the topic in a way that makes the story relevant and engaging to audiences and that contains evidence of its likely social impact or benefit to society.
• Provide, where possible, a pan-African perspective.
• Are multi-sourced.
• Were broadcast or published between July 2015 and July 2016. Proof of this will be required.

Detailed descriptions of the various categories can be found here:
The deadline for submission of entries is Thursday, 15th September 2016, atmidnight and the winning entries will be awarded during a Reporting Africa conference to be convened in Nairobi, Kenya, in November this year.

Applications or other materials sent by post, hand or fax will be rejected. All submissions must be in an electronic format. Contestants must download and fill in the entry form and send it via email with their updated CV attached to zimeoawards@africanmediainitiative.org. Download the form here:
For print, please include the PDF scan(s) of the published article. The text of the article must be legible. Maximum file size: 5 MB – Allowed format: PDF only.
For radio – please upload the file onto SoundCloud and provide the URL link on the entry form.

For digital, please include a working website link (URL) on the entry form
For TV material, please upload the video on YouTube and provide the URL link on the entry form.

For any queries, please contact:
Justus Machio
Media Outreach Officer
African Media Initiative
jmachio@africanmediainitiative.org

About AMI
AMI is an umbrella organisation that brings media owners together and seeks to find solutions to perennial problems facing the industry such as the lack of financing and solid business models, as well as difficulties in accessing the advertising market or even just good Internet connectivity. The organisation also aims to spur better journalism through various training programmes, including in data and development journalism.

IPI/AMI PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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July 15, 2016
Contact: Steven M. Ellis
sellis[at]freemedia[dot]at

DECLARATION OF THE 2016 JOINT EMERGENCY PRESS FREEDOM MISSION TO ZAMBIA

Delegates from the International Press Institute (IPI) and the African Media Initiative (AMI) call on Zambian authorities to allow opposition daily The Post to reopen immediately, noting that the apparent politically motivated attempt to silence it ahead of elections is part of a chain of events raising deep concerns over the state of democracy in the country.

The delegates travelled to Lusaka from July 13 to 15, 2016 as part of a joint emergency press freedom mission in which they met with representatives from government, the leading opposition party, The Post, the judiciary, civil society and foreign diplomatic missions to discuss the June 21 closure of The Post’s offices and printing press, and the seizure of its assets, over disputed tax debts.

The groups note that an order by Zambia’s Revenue Appeals Tribunal last month set forth a path to resolve the matter, which centres on allegedly unpaid income tax withholding and VAT receipts. The order directs the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to release The Post’s bank accounts and hand back its premises and equipment so that it can conduct business. It also directs The Post to immediately pay whatever portion of a 53 million kwacha tax bill issued earlier this year that it believes is actually owed and to provide security for the remainder until the true amount can be determined.

The groups also note the arrest of Post Editor and Co-Founder Fred M’membe, his wife, Mutinta Mazoka-M’membe, and Post Deputy Managing Editor Joseph Mwenda after they entered the paper’s offices with the Tribunal’s order. The three, who were allegedly assaulted during the incident, were released but charged with uttering a forged document – the order – and criminal trespass.

The tax case against The Post is widely perceived to be the result of political pressure by Zambian President Edgar Lungu to silence critics of his ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party ahead of next month’s elections, in which voters will elect the president and members of the General Assembly, and decide whether to adopt changes to the Bill of Rights in Zambia’s Constitution.

Zambia’s economy has suffered a downturn in recent years as a result of falling copper prices and other factors, making the collection of tax revenues that much more important. However a government spokesperson conceded that the ZRA has failed to act as aggressively to collect tax debts from media outlets sympathetic to the PF.

The representatives also note that government agents have raided printers suspected of printing copies of The Post in recent weeks, even though no court has deemed publication of the daily to be illegal. Government representatives have brushed off questions about one of those raids, claiming the printer was the target of unrelated charges, but they have failed to justify others.

The case targeting The Post has come amid an uptick in pressure on media, leading to a broader climate of self-censorship. The representatives note that in recent years journalists have complained of threats and harassment by Information Minister Chishimba Kambwili against journalists and outlets that engaged in critical, or insufficiently deferential, coverage.

Journalists have also reported harassment and threats from party cadres associated with both the PF and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), depending on the journalists’ media affiliation.

The tax case has also come amid an unprecedented surge in political violence, illustrated most recently in last week’s use by police in Lusaka of live ammunition to quell clashes with UPND supporters. One UNPD supporter was killed, leading the country’s election commission to order all campaigning in the capital city suspended for 10 days.

Zambia has enjoyed a reputation as a leader in respect for democracy and human rights in the region, but recent events have cast a troubling shadow over that reputation. Voters need and deserve to hear a full range of voices as they decide their future. The Post has played a vital role in providing an alternative to government dominated mass media. Unshackling that voice is critical if Zambians are to vote in an atmosphere that can be deemed free and fair. The sooner that this issue is resolved – and the sooner that The Post and all journalists who choose to play such a role are allowed to do so freely – the better.

The representatives therefore call on Zambia’s government to:

• Immediately drop all criminal charges against M’membe and the others charged with him, and hold those responsible for assaults on them accountable;
• Allow all media outlets in Zambia to operate independently and to cover all parties contesting the upcoming elections in a free and fair manner;
• Ensure that the ZRA, as well as all other government entities, is allowed to fulfil its statutory functions without political interference;
• Respect the independence of the judiciary and of the Revenue Appeals Tribunal, and play a leadership role in encouraging the ZRA as well as all other parties in proceedings before those bodies to respect and comply with their decisions;
• Come together with representations of all political parties contesting the upcoming elections to denounce political violence and pressure targeting journalists; and
• Publicly reaffirm the vital role of media freedom to democracy and ensure that all government officials respect it in line with Zambia’s domestic and international human rights commitments, and refrain from bringing political pressure to bear on media outlets.

The representatives further call on the ZRA and The Post to heed the aforementioned decision by the Revenue Appeals Tribunal and to work together to ensure that it is carried out.

-IPI Executive Board Chair John Yearwood
-AMI Senior Adviser Wangethi Mwangi
-IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis

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Left to right, African Media Initiative (AMI) Senior Adviser Wangethi Mwangi, Post Editor and Co-Founder Fred M’membe, International Press Institute (IPI) Executive Board Chair John Yearwood and IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis during a meeting in Lusaka, Zambia on July 14, 2016. Photo: IPI

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Journalists from Zambia’s The Post, working from their “mobile newsroom” on the street outside the publication’s shuttered offices on July 13, 2016. The newspaper has continued to publish a truncated print version since Zambia’s Revenue Authority seized its assets and closed its offices in June 2016. Photo: IPI

Focus on Africa Development Week 2016

Carlos Lopes: Rooting for blue economy

Carlos Lopes: Rooting for blue economy


 

Addis Ababa, April 2016 – At the African Development Week held in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the issues for discussion included action plans to achieve regional integration, industrialization, migration and financing for development, the green economy, the problem of measuring corruption in Africa, and restoration of the African Peer Review Mechanism.

Highlights of Economic Commission for Africa’s initiatives

  • Launch of Regional Integration in Africa VII and Africa Regional Integration Index to ensure the continent has “clear fact-based benchmarks and standards to assess its overall progress, and simultaneously provide a mechanism for comparing performance and learning from each other”.
  • Launch of Africa’s Blue Economy Policy Handbook, described as a tool to equip Africa harness “The New Frontier of African Renaissance”. Highlighting the importance of the blue economy, ECA’s Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes pointed out that,Freshwater and ocean fish make a vital contribution to the food and nutritional security of over 200 million Africans.”
  • Launch of Economic Report on Africa.

Source: Communication Section, ECA, Addis Ababa

A development agenda for the media

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Eric Chinje, CEO African Media Initiative 


 

AMI supports social media ethics code

April, 2016 — The African Media Initiative has asked to be listed as a supporter of a Social Newsgathering Code of Ethics launched on April 1, 2016, by the Online News Association.

The code, described by its sponsors as “a set of best practices that cover everything from verification to rights issues to the health and safety of sources — and of journalists themselves”, has attracted support from a variety of international media such as AFP, BBC, CNN, Eurovision News Exchange, Eyewitness Media Hub, First Draft, Reported.ly, Storyful, The Guardian, Verification Junkie, Ethical Journalism Network, Fresco News, and Verifeye Media.

At the launch, ONA’s board member and chair of its News Ethics Committee, Eric Carvin, said: “We’re constantly reminded of the need for best practices such as these. The recent bombings in Brussels, Ankara, Lahore and Yemen, among others, provided yet another stark and tragic reminder of how information and imagery spread, in a matter of moments, from the scene of an unexpected news event to screens around the world.”

He added: “Moments like these challenge us, as journalists, to tell a fast-moving story in a way that’s informative, detailed and accurate. These days, a big part of that job involves wading through a roiling sea of digital content and making sense out of what we surface.”

Welcoming the code, Eric Chinje, AMI’s chief executive officer, said the pan-African body had not hesitation in supporting the initiative, which, “in a very resounding way, buttresses our own efforts to strengthen the ethical basis of journalism”. He urged news organizations that care for entrenchment of professional standards to support the code and promote its application in their particular jurisdictions.

The code lays out the following practices:

  • Endeavoring to verify the authenticity of user-generated content before publishing or distributing it, holding it to standards that are equal or equivalent to those maintained for content acquired through other means.
  • Being transparent with the audience about the verification status of UGC.
  • Considering the the emotional state and safety of contributors.
  • Considering the risk inherent in asking a contributor to produce and deliver UGC, including whether it incentivizes others to take unnecessary risks.
  • Considering technical measures to ensure anonymity of sources when required.
  • Seeking informed consent for the use of UGC through direct communication with the individual who created it.
  • Being transparent about how content will be used and distributed to other platforms.
  • Giving due credit to the owner of the content providing that consideration has been given to potential consequences, including their physical, mental and reputational well-being.
  • Endeavoring to inform and equip journalists to confront the dangers of engaging with sources through social media networks and the digital footprint they leave behind.
  • Supporting and assisting journalists who are confronted with graphic or otherwise disturbing content. Maintaining an organizational culture that enables journalists to seek help or speak out when they need to protect their mental health. (Source:socialnewsgathering@journalists.org)

About AMI

AMI is an umbrella organisation that brings media owners together and seeks to find solutions to perennial problems facing the industry such as the lack of financing and solid business models, as well as difficulties in accessing the advertising market or even just good Internet connectivity. The organisation also aims to spur better journalism through various training programmes, including in data, basic science, and development journalism.

 

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