Media Practitioners have tasked government at all levels to create a safer and enabling environment for Journalists as world marks the “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists”
The Media professionals at an event in Lagos to mark the day, charged the government to enact law that would protect Journalists from discharging their duties.
They agreed that attack on Journalists have a destructive effect on the dissemination of information while expressing concern over the way Journalists are increasingly subjected to all forms of threats, ranging from kidnapping, torture, physical attacks and other forms of harassment.
At the event in Lagos Southwest Nigeria, Senior lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Dr.
Suraj Adekunle while speaking on the topic; ” Safety of Journalists in a pandemic Nigeria: Mask Up or Shut Up” said there are certain understandings about the operation of the media and the media cannot totally avoid the economic interest which is associated with click basis and computer algorithm to drive traffic that cannot deny political interest of those in government and politicians in the way media discharge its responsibilities.
He said “in many places around the world, journalists were killed, tortured, jailed and harassed for reports that exposed abuses of corrupt regimes; reports that undermined the work of terrorists and criminals; reports that gave voice to overlooked communities; and reports that countered disinformation.
The Senior lecturer disclosed that Covid-19 threatens to accelerate the global trends of Democratic backsliding and weakening respect for human rights that is intensifying existing inequalities, hitting those who already marginalised, subjected to discrimination and living in poverty that hardest.
“Equally important to the question of the impact of the pandemic response and what the pandemic has revealed about the quality of government prior to the crisis.
In many places, it has exposed the erosion of the social contract between citizens and state, the failure of democracy to deliver inclusive, equitable growth and well-being.
It has also revealed the importance of agile, effective governance and state capacity, competent leadership, information integrity, and strong oversight.
States that have these qualities have fared better than those who do not.
Addressing Journalists at the event, The Nigeria Union of Journalists(NUJ), Lagos Council Chairman, Adeleye Ajayi said it’s an opportunity to devote some thought to the travails of media practitioners and to consider the important role of the media as struggle to fulfil the constitutional and social responsibilities in a free and democratic society.
NUJ Chairman who was represented by Vice Chairman, Mrs Biola Beckley noted that many places around the world, journalists were killed, tortured, jailed and harassed for reports that exposed abuses of corrupt regimes; reports that undermined the work of terrorists and criminals; reports that gave voice to overlooked communities; and reports that countered disinformation.
“Over the past 14 years, 1,200 journalists have been killed globally for reporting the news and bringing information to the public.
Globally, it is a matter of concern that less than one in ten cases committed against media workers over the past decades had led to conviction.
“However, cases of killed and missing journalists are becoming more worrisome.
Three days ago, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Council staged a peaceful protest at the Force Headquarters for the safe return of the missing journalist, Tordue Henry
Salem of Vanguard Newspapers,” Ajayi said.
The journalists urged Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali to ensure that the journalist who had been missing since October 13 is returned alive to his family.
Journalists urged the Inspector General to step up intelligence and investigation to unravel the mysterious disappearance of the journalist.
“In Nigeria, there have been calls for the Federal Government to reopen investigation of journalists killed in the past.
“In view of the prevailing situation, Reporters Without Borders, a fully independent international organisation that conducts advocacy for Freedom of Information and Press Freedom ranks Nigeria 115 out of 180 in its 2020 data of press freedom ranking.
“As the way forward, people in authorities should make it a priority to support the growth of the free press and enhancement of freedom of expression.
“Legislators should therefore review all laws which infringe on the enhancement of freedom of the press and amend them appropriately to reflect the democratic status of Nigeria.
Co- Convener and Publisher of Safety and Security Watch Magazine, Dr.
Chinyere Amaechi x-rayed UNESCO’s reports that one journalist is killed every four days in the line of duty as nine out of every ten cases involving Journalists have remained unresolved.
She emphasised the need to appreciate Journalists globally especially here in Nigeria as their rights had been abused in the line of duty.
The publisher also urged Security operatives in every nook and cranny of Nigeria to be above board as the press was free in any democratic setting to operate.
Amaechi who advised government on the need to initiate a policy or enact law that will guarantee Journalists safety, subscribed to the advocacy of media enhancement bill proposed to the legislative quarters of the government.
The event was organised by the management of Safety and Security Watch in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos Council.
Media Practitioners seek safer environment for Nigerian Journalists