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UN, FG, others canvass better deal for journalists

By Silver Nwokoro and Waliat Musa 
02 November 2022   |   4:48 am
As the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists holds today, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has called on governments and global community to take necessary....

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 08, 2020, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference at the African Union headquarters during the 33rd African Union Summit, in Addis Ababa. – Guterres on August 24, 2022, urged an immediate restoration of a ceasefire in Ethiopia as he voiced shock at a resumption of violence after a five-month lull. “I am deeply shocked and saddened by the news of the resumption of hostilities in Ethiopia. Ethiopians, Tigrayans, Amharas, Oromos, Afars, have already suffered too much,” Guterres told reporters before a Security Council meeting. (Photo by MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP)

As the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists holds today, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has called on governments and global community to take necessary steps in shielding reporters from imprisonment, violence and death.

In his goodwill message, Guterres noted that a free press remained vital to functioning democracy, exposing wrongdoing, navigating the complex world and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The United Nations Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists aims to create a safe and free environment for all media workers.

He said: “Yet, more than 70 journalists have been killed this year simply for fulfilling this role in society. Most of these crimes go unsolved. Meanwhile, a record number of journalists are incarcerated today, while threats of imprisonment, violence and death keep growing.

“As we mark its 10th anniversary, I call on governments and the international community to take the necessary steps to protect our journalists. We must end a common culture of impunity and enable journalists to do their essential work.”

The UN scribe observed that a surge in disinformation, online bullying and hate speech, particularly against women journalists, was contributing to stifling of media workers around the world.

He stressed that intimidation through abuse of legal, financial and other means was undermining efforts to hold the powerful accountable for overall benefit of the society.

BESIDES, the International Press Centre (IPC) has confirmed ‘no fewer than 40 incidents of press freedom attacks on 49 journalists in the year 2021 alone in Nigeria’.

According to the International Press Institute (IPI), in 2021 alone, 45 journalists were killed across the world, 28 slain in retaliation for their work, three eliminated, while covering armed conflicts, one assassinated in line of duty, two died while covering civil unrests, while 11 deaths are under investigation.

The top four nations with the most killings of media practitioners in the year under review were Mexico with (seven), Afghanistan (six), India (six) and Democratic Republic of Congo (three).

IPI regretted that “vast majority of the killings around the world go unpunished, emboldening further violence and casting a chilling effect over the press everywhere.”

FURTHER, Chairperson of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Lagos State chapter, Adeola Ekine, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to protect media personnel, enthrone safer work environment and promote freedom of speech.

Her words: “Some journalists stop at nothing to report the truth. Unfortunately, reporting facts cost some their lives. Journalists have died for seeking the truth and relaying it to the public.

Some suffered torture. Others were severely injured, imprisoned and harassed.” She continued: “Women reporters suffer sexual assault but unfortunately, the punishment for people who commit violence against journalists is too lenient.”
ALSO yesterday, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), reiterated government’s commitment to end impunity against journalists, especially as the presidential election draws nearer.

He said this would be done through administration of legal justifiable approaches on perpetrators to serve as deterrent to others.

Malami spoke yesterday at a policy dialogue to mark the global event with the theme, ‘Media Civil Society and Violence-free Election in Nigeria’.

He noted: At the centre of election-related violence are voters, media practitioners and civil society organisations. In addition to the mainstream media, CSOs prove to be essential components of advocates for democratisation process in the country.

“The social media, which are also used by CSOs, remain essential tool for mass mobilisation, enlightenment, advocacy and election monitoring.”