Senegal: MFWA wants Police in West Africa trained on journalists' safety

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has called for the training of police and other security forces to protect journalists' safety and stop violent extremism in West Africa.

In a statement, obtained by PANA in Dakar, Senegal, on Tuesday, MFWA said the call was part of a set of recommendations it made as submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) in line with the United Nation organ’s compilation of best practices and lessons on how upholding human rights can contribute to prevent violent extremism (PVE) and countering violent extremism (CVE).

The sub-regional media rights watchdog also called for accountability, particularly prosecutions, ''for crimes against journalists in order to enable journalists to feel safe about reporting on sensitive topics, including violent extremism.''

''The submission expressed great concern that police and other security forces regularly violate the right to freedom of expression especially press freedom rights. The persistence of crimes against journalists, impunity and acts of censorship prevents - even precludes - the media from performing its duty as a provider of information,'' the statement pointed out.

Citing Nigeria as an example, MFWA said last year, the military attacked the media for reporting on the role of international assistance in Nigeria’s CVE strategy against Boko Haram.

The attack was said to have led to widespread self-censorship among the media with regards to reportage on the anti-Boko Haram war.

MFWA also recommended that PVE and CVE strategists should understand the promotion of freedom of expression, including press freedom, as more than just a tool of PVE and CVE programming and efforts.

It emphasized that police and other security forces must receive human rights training, particularly on the need to respect and protect freedom of expression, including press freedom, and the safety of journalists.

''States should take steps to end impunity for crimes against journalists and the media generally. The lack of accountability, particularly prosecutions, for crimes against journalists creates a culture of impunity, facilitates future attacks and pushes journalists to self-censor on a range of topics, including violent extremism.''

''States should build the capacity of journalists and the media to report on issues related to violent extremism, which entails creating an enabling environment for the media to perform its functions,'' the statement added.

MFWA also stressed that the media must behave with increased professionalism, which would facilitate its ability to support and educate the public on PVE and CVE programming and efforts.

Meanwhile, OHCHR’s Compilation Report is a collection of best practices on how to combat violent extremism as part of the UN High Commissioner’s Action Plan on the issue and the report will be released in September 2016.
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 23Aug2016

23 august 2016 16:34:26




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