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ECOWAS, CSOs, others express concern over attacks on journalists



President, ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, has described attacks on journalists across the world as a matter of grave concern.Justice Asante added that it was unacceptable that journalists were maimed and killed for simply performing their professional duties in line with the provisions of the freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

Justice Asante spoke at the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists programme held in Arusha, Tanzania.Pledging that ECOWAS Court of Justice will collaborate with multilateral agencies and state parties in defending the freedom of expression, press freedom and safety of journalists, he added that these freedoms are usually guaranteed in the Constitutions of State parties and international human rights instruments, including the basic United Nations Human Rights standards.

Justice Asante also cautioned that meaningful and concerted steps must be taken to ensure that journalists enjoy protection under various normative frameworks.He said: “We cannot over-emphasize the role of journalists in a democratic society or under repressive regimes in disseminating information and holding state actors and the organized private sector accountable at grave risk to their personal safety.

“We must therefore commend the role of UNESCO in highlighting the crimes against journalists and taking measures to end impunity against journalists.The meeting aimed at taking stock of the progress made in establishing national mechanisms for safety of journalists as regards the Nairobi Declaration. Justice Asante expressed hope that with the broad representation of regional bodies and national coordination committees at the meeting, the expected outcomes would be met.

Recall that journalists and rights activists have taken to the streets in Nigeria recently as a call to action and in tribute to Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, who was allegedly killed at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Turkey on October 2.

Meanwhile, the Civil Society Organizations have tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to order the reopening of impartial, independent and transparent investigations into the murders of all Nigerian journalists and ensure their killers don’t go unpunished.Lawyer and rights activist, Frank Tietie, lamented that too many Nigerian journalists have been killed in the line of duty and in total impunity.“As we call on the Saudi government, so also we call on the Nigerian government to put an end to impunity for crimes against journalists”, he said.

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