International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists
The UN General Assembly endorsed the International Day To End Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists on November 2nd, 2013 in commemorating the assassination of the French Journalists (Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon) in Mali. Both were abducted after interviewing a local political leader. Their bodies were found outside the town soon after. French President Francois Hollande called the killings "despicable".
Morning Crossfire this morning spans across human rights issues to journalism. Sheriff starts by commenting on the death toll of journalists which is too high, while accountability is very low. He says the United Nations once placed the figure of more than 1,000 journalists killed in the span of 12 years for reporting news and bringing vital information.
UN further reveals that in nine out of ten cases, the perpetrators go free without punishment. Journalists are not only arrested for what is being reported but also for fake charges. Smashing their equipment such as laptops, harrassment, and other forms of intimidation are also common.
A field report done by Goodnews Ndukwe, Nigeria Info’s Star Correspondent also receives attention as it sheds light on what Nigerians think when it comes to freedom of the press.
The respondents believe that press freedom is quite limited in Nigeria and that the pollical elites control how information is disseminated. Nigerians believe that the press should be able to carry out their work without interference by politicians. Unfortunately, the respondents believe that is not so and there are those who believe that some journalists twist information in favor of politicians.
Toyin Adeniran, who works to support journalists, also joins the presenters Wemimo and Sheriff on 99.3 Nigeria Info FM and she also bares her mind on giving quality support to journalists in Nigeria.
“We had to really look at how to close that gap of making journalists have access to information and also helping them to get the tools they need in carrying out their work. It helped, because now many journalists are confident to do their stories and ready for the consequences. Now they can look beyond the brown envelop thing and collaborate with other journalists outside of the country. They can now have awards, which could be monetary or in terms of leave.”
Lilian Okonkwo joins the show through phone call and bemoans the pitiful state of journalists who remain in a workplace that fails to pay them for nine months. She says the impact of that is ‘Brown Envelop’. “Maybe you’re doing a report on human angle story where you highlight personal issues of other people. When you go, you’re not expected to collect money. But they go there and you see them hanging, and may be asking ‘ “Anything, how far? Are they writing name?”’
She says when she checked out those journalists, she discovered they were working for private media houses.
On his part, Kolawole Oluwadare also comments over the phone expresses his thoughts on this matter, especially on freedom of expressions and practicing journalism in Nigeria.
“We launched a report to look at the state of media freedom in Nigeria,” Kolawole begins. “It’s titled ‘The Downward Spiral: How Federal and State Authorities are Stifling the Schools and Media Freedom in Nigeria’.”
He adds that medium freedom in Nigeria is seen as spiraling downward in Nigeria particularly in the recent few years. The panel set up for discussion during the report claimed that the judiciary that should have helped in solving the problem, is not doing so well from 1999 till date, when compared to when they were under the military.
According to Kolawole, the summary of the report is that 109 journalists have been detained between 2010 and 2015 and some of them have died. There may be more, as he says, but that is number on record. Another worrisome aspect is that he says that it appears that state governments are copying federal government in attacking journalists.
Kolawole Oluwadare – Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
Toyin Adeniran – Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism @WSoyinkaCentre
Lilian Okonkwo - Chairperson, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists(NAWOJ) Rivers State chapter
Morning Crossfire with Wemimo Adewuni (@wemimospot) & Sheriff Quadry (@SheriffQuadry)
By Jude Chukwuemeka