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Lawyers urge FG to domesticate policies on journalists’ safety

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The need for the Federal Government to domesticate relevant instruments and standards on the safety of journalists has become a source of concern to lawyers who were, yesterday, trained by the Media Rights Agenda (MRA).

This, according to the participants, will give impetus to compliance and enforcement processes at the national level as a way of ending impunity for crimes against journalists.

The lawyers, whom The Guardian observed were drawn from different parts of the country, also urged the government to live up to its international treaty obligations to guarantee the safety of journalists and other media practitioners.

With ‘Litigation on Safety of Journalists’ as the theme, the two-day training was organised by MRA with support from the Global Media Defence Fund (GMDF) through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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In a statement by MRA’s Communications Officer, Idowu Adewale, the participants urged media organisations in the country to undertake regular periodic safety training for their staff for them to carry out their work safely and professionally.

The organisations should endeavour to equipment journalists and other workers appropriately to prevent or minimise their exposure to various professional hazards, they added.

For judges to be appropriately informed about the importance of journalists’ safety, lawyers and civil society organisations were urged to liaise with the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), heads of various courts and other relevant organisations, institutions and agencies in organising sensitisation programmes and activities for judicial officers on the safety of journalists.

As part of efforts by Nigeria to meet its obligations under regional and international instruments to prevent attacks on journalists and ensure accountability for any such crimes, ‘Practice Directions’ should be issued to guide the hearing and determination of such cases to improve the effectiveness of judicial mechanisms in addressing the challenge of crimes against journalists, they added.

According to them, it was a shocking irony that attacks on the media, particularly the killing of journalists, escalated in a civilian democracy, rising far above the levels recorded during the military regimes.

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