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MRA moves to combat impunity in attacks against journalists

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Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has launched a project to combat impunity in attacks against journalists in the country.

Specifically, the project is to make those who unjustifiably threaten or undermine safety or security, freedom and wellbeing of media professionals in Nigeria to incur the wrath of the law.

MRA said the project, supported by the Global Media Defence Fund (GMDF), through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), would provide pro bono legal assistance and litigation support to journalists in Nigeria whose rights are threatened or violated, and combat the impunity with which such attacks are carried out.

Essentially, the move is aimed at providing a safe environment for media professionals to effectively carry out their work.

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Head of MRA’s Legal Department, Ms. Chioma Nwaodike, who announced the take-off of the project, said: “We are excited to be able to implement this project, building on our previous efforts to promote and defend media freedom, and in particular, to provide legal assistance and litigation support to the media community in Nigeria to enable its members carry out their primary duties of educating and enlightening the society while also upholding the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people, as required by the constitution.”

She explained that, in furtherance of MRA’s objective of providing a safe and conducive environment for journalism practice in Nigeria, the organisation would also undertake strategic litigation to challenge any obstacle to that goal.

“MRA is privileged to be supported in this endeavour by a network of seasoned and committed lawyers from across Nigeria who have agreed to deploy their knowledge, legal expertise and experience on behalf of journalists and media organisations in Nigeria, free of charge in the event that their rights are violated or threatened or where their safety or security is in jeopardy,” Nwaodike said.

According to her, given MRA’s mandate to promote and defend media freedom, and the fact that activities of those who attack journalists and the media serve to make the environment for media practice toxic, the organisation would not always seek the consent of the affected journalists or media organisations before taking action.

“We will explore all available legal mechanisms and instruments at national, regional and international levels as well as the protections and remedies that they offer. In every case we undertake on behalf of media victims of attacks, we will bring the full weight of the relevant instruments and mechanisms to bear on the perpetrators, regardless of whether they are government officials, law enforcement and security agents, or non-state actors,” the organisation warned.

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