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.
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:
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 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.
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.
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’.
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.
Mr. Wale Aboderin
new AMI chair
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
All across the length and breadth of Africa, people make decisions, big and small, every day. To do this, they have to rely on the best information that is publicly available. But often the information in the mainstream media, public discussions and social media is partial, misleading or just plain wrong. Misleading claims about minority populations, replayed in the traditional and social media, have led to everything from xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2015 to the Rwandan genocide of 1994. False media reports into health problems, such as polio, and supposed cures for diseases from HIV/AIDS to Ebola, have caused unnecessary sickness and death across the continent.
It was to start to tackle this problem that the continent’s first independent fact-checking website, www.africacheck.org, was set up in partnership with the Journalism Department of University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa, in 2012, with a French-language version set up in partnership with the EJICOM journalism school in Dakar, Senegal, in 2015.
The role of Africa Check in promoting fact-checking journalism was the topic of a debate that took place on 19 October at the Institute of Advanced Studies run by the University of Westminster in London. Dr Winston Mano, Director of the Africa Media Centre, and Peter Cunliffe-Jones, Executive Director of Africa Check discussed the impact that the misrepresentations that take place have on the continent and what journalists around Africa can do to tackle this. Cunliffe-Jones explained the way Africa Check is seeking partners around Africa interesting in spreading this vital new form of journalism. He also discussed the growth in interest in the African Fact-Checking Awards which Africa Check now runs, and which saw record entries this year. French- and English-language winners of the awards are due to be announced at AMI’s Reporting Africa conference in Nairobi on 8 December.
For more information on Africa Check visit the website or email: email@example.com.
The Africa We Want
A Programme to Popularize Agenda 2063
Eric Chinje, October 31, 2016
It will be interesting to find out how many people reading this would have heard about the African Union’s “Agenda 2063” – a seminal document that defines what it will take to get to the Africa that every African wants… in just under 50 years.
A meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, on October 24 & 25 of African editors and press officers, held under the auspices of the African Union Commission and the South African government, should ultimately determine how Agenda 2063 is internalized and plays out within the continental social space. The meeting, on the “Popularization of Agenda 2063”, sought to promote the domestication in all member countries of the African Union, of the document.
AUC Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was there over the two days of meeting, along with some of her Commissioners, advisers, and senior communications staff. She spoke passionately about “the Africa we want”, extolling the importance of the road map to get there. The road ahead will not be easy, she said, but it is one Africa must take if it is to reach its desired destination after the first 100 years of independence.
The leadership of the African Editors Forum (TAEF), the African Media Initiative (AMI), the Communications department of the AU and the Pan African Parliament were all there to discuss and to commit to having media play its central role in achieving the outcomes spelt out in Agenda 2063. So they all agreed, among other things, to promote the agenda within countries on the continent, promote a campaign to forge a strong cultural identity, a common heritage, shared values and ethics,… and to unlock the potential of the [African] creative sector.
A lot of good talk but, as the published report of the Agenda underscores, it is time for action; time to be part of the transformation. The aspirations are many, the roadmap quite extensive. Agenda 2063 calls for the eradication of poverty in the coming decade. This will be done through investments in the productive capacities of Africans, improving incomes, creating jobs and providing basic necessities of life.
The blueprint also includes a laundry list of achievable elements: the provision of decent and affordable housing; an educational and skills revolution that promotes science, technology, research and innovation; economic transformation, growth and industrialization; the modernization of agriculture; connecting Africa through world-class infrastructure; introduce an African passport,….. and silence the guns by 2020! There are at least seventeen action points and eight enablers that include “African resources to finance its development” and “Accountable leadership and responsive institutions.”
There are no measurable indicators of progress. Just the prescriptions and expected outcomes. The meeting in Pretoria could have debated this but that would be missing the point. The vision is there and the ingredients for Africa’s transformation have been identified.
What does media have to do with all of this? Well, if the story does not go out on all the media platforms and regularly enough, how in the world will the building blocks of the Africa we want get to you?
STATEMENT BY MEDIA PRACTIONERS
AT THE OPEN SESSION OF THE PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL
“Role of the media in enhancing accountability on women, peace and security commitments in Africa”
Madam Chair, Members of the Council, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
We, media practioners from different parts of Africa, including Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tunisia, and Uganda, representing the breadth of media, including private and public local radio, print, broadcast, and new media, gathered on the 18th to 19th October 2016 in Addis Ababa;
Under the auspices of the Office of the Special Envoy on Women Peace and Security of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) in partnership with UN Women, we convened to discuss Gender-Responsive Reporting in Conflict, Post-Conflict, and Fragile Settings.
We recognize the continued commitment of the AU to mainstream gender into all the work of the PSC, to ‘Silence the Guns’ by 2020, and the aspirations embedded in Agenda 2063;
Note the designation of 2016 as the “Year of Human Rights, with a Particular Focus on the Rights of Women”;
Appreciate the opportunity to address the African Union Peace and Security Council on issues of peace in general and the ‘Role of the media in enhancing accountability on women, peace and security commitments in Africa’ in particular;
Stress the importance of an enabling environment for the media to play a positive role as agents of peace;
Note increasing pressure on freedom of expression and censorship efforts in many contexts-including on social media, and the need for access to information;
Express concern about the safety and security of media personnel across the continent, particularly that of women journalists.
Over the course of the two-day convening, we identified and discussed critical challenges facing gender-responsive media on the continent. These include the underrepresentation of affected women’s voices, expertise, and women covering issues of peace and security; the continued stigmatization of women and stereotypical portrayal of women in conflict reporting; lack of women in leadership and editorial decision-making positions within media organizations; and ethical considerations that come with reporting of conflict and engaging with survivors of violence;
We recognize that the media has a critical role to play in pushing a progressive agenda on women, peace, and security by engaging in gender aware coverage of peace and security issues;
Understand the need to formulate new narratives when telling African stories on women peace and security by documenting the diversity of women’s stories, telling not just stories of victimhood but also stories of leadership, peacebuilding, and positive agents for social change;
Commit to adhering to ethical principles, such as do no harm and prevention of secondary victimization of women who have already suffered, and actively seeking the voices of those who are not normally heard;
Also commit to working through this nascent network of reporters for women, peace, and security to promote gender responsive reporting; to push for justice, and broader accountability for women, peace, and security commitments; and raise awareness and sensitize citizens through our reporting.
We call on the Council to ensure that Member States protect the safety of journalists;
We encourage the Council to maintain dialogue with the media, during their field missions as well as broader issue based engagement;
We call also on the Council to and the media in their oversight role in ensuring women’s greater participation during mediation processes, conflict prevention efforts, and post conflict reconstruction and recovery as well as their protection and the prevention of sexual and gender based violence.
We thank you.