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MRA trains lawyers to protect journalists

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Media Rights Agenda has concluded plans to build lawyers’ capacity on the safety of journalists, to help end attacks and intimidation of media practitioners.

MRA’s Communications Officer, Idowu Adewale, in a statement yesterday, quoted the Head of Legal Department, Chioma Nwaodike, as saying that the two-day exercise would enhance the capacity of lawyers to litigate cases for journalists and media organisations under threat or attack.

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The training, with support from the Global Media Defence Fund (GMDF) through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), The Guardian gathered, will take place in Abuja on April 14 and 15.

Thirty lawyers will be drawn from different parts of the country for the training.

According to Nwaodike, the training is aimed at ensuring accountability for attacks on journalists and the media in Nigeria.

She said: “We are bringing together lawyers from different parts of the country who have agreed to provide pro bono legal assistance and litigation for journalists whose rights are threatened or violated as part of efforts to provide a safe environment for media workers to effectively carry out their professional duties.”

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Lamenting that journalists had, on several occasions, been attacked without the government coming to their rescue, she believed that the training, if successful, would go a long way in deterring persons who derive joy in attacking journalists.

“A situation where journalists and other media workers are killed, brutalised, tortured or visited with other forms of violence and the government takes no serious action to investigate such attacks and bringing the perpetrators to justice is unacceptable,” she added.

The workshop, she explained, would give participating lawyers the opportunity to identify and familiarise themselves with national, regional, and international instruments and mechanisms that could be deployed to ensure the safety of journalists in Nigeria.

Her words: “The workshop is also intended to examine the most effective approaches in conducting strategic litigation to challenge laws as well as institutional and administrative practices that impede media freedom, contrary to the constitution or regional and international instruments to which Nigeria is a party, while also leveraging the protection and remedies that they offer.”

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