Group calls for re­duc­tion in at­tacks on jour­nal­ists

The Punch - - APPOINTMEN­TS & MANAGEMENT -

Agroup, Me­dia Rights Agenda, has called on the gov­ern­ment to adopt and im­ple­ment poli­cies aimed at curb­ing at­tacks on jour­nal­ists.

It also sought for dili­gent pros­e­cu­tion of per­pe­tra­tors of such at­tacks, while dis­cour­ag­ing fu­ture at­tacks.

MRA made this call in a re­port ti­tled ‘A pro­fes­sion en­dan­gered: An an­a­lyt­i­cal re­port on the safety of jour­nal­ists in Nige­ria.’

It high­lighted a va­ri­ety of at­tacks faced by Nige­rian jour­nal­ists in the course of car­ry­ing out their pro­fes­sional du­ties, in­clud­ing assault and bat­ter­ing, ar­rests and de­ten­tion, shut­down of me­dia out­lets, raids on me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions and fa­cil­i­ties, con­fis­ca­tion or de­struc­tion of work equip­ment, and ab­duc­tions, among oth­ers.

The body ex­plained that the re­port aimed to find so­lu­tions that en­sure the safety of jour­nal­ists at all times, par­tic­u­larly in the face of shrink­ing civic space in Nige­ria.

It said there were sus­tained at­tacks on the right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion and me­dia free­dom while suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments and law en­force­ment agen­cies had failed to take mean­ing­ful steps to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion.

The sit­u­a­tion, it added, had sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected the abil­ity of the me­dia to pro­vide the public with ac­cu­rate and re­li­able in­for­ma­tion.

The re­port, which was pro­duced with the sup­port of the Africa Free­dom of Ex­pres­sion Ex­change, a con­ti­nen­tal net­work of the most promi­nent African free­dom of ex­pres­sion and me­dia rights or­gan­i­sa­tions, doc­u­mented cases of at­tacks on jour­nal­ists and the me­dia in Nige­ria be­tween Jan­uary 2017 and May 2019.

It stated in part, “In all cases of at­tacks against jour­nal­ists in Nige­ria, there is no ev­i­dence of any dili­gent ef­fort made by se­cu­rity and law en­force­ment agen­cies to in­ves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute per­pe­tra­tors; the per­pe­tra­tors in­vari­ably com­mit these crimes with im­punity as they go scot-free with­out any reper­cus­sion for their ac­tions.”

MRA’S Pro­gramme Director, Ay­ode Longe, said: “It has be­come im­per­a­tive that we call at­ten­tion to this ugly trend of at­tacks against the me­dia be­cause of the neg­a­tive ef­fect es­pe­cially when gov­ern­ment is do­ing noth­ing to ad­dress the is­sue.

“We have con­sis­tently made the point that when at­tacks on the me­dia go un­pun­ished, per­pe­tra­tors are em­bold­ened and jour­nal­ists are si­lenced in many ways.

“In­vari­ably, the public is de­nied vi­tal in­for­ma­tion that they would or­di­nar­ily be able to ob­tain through the me­dia and which might be crit­i­cally im­por­tant for de­ci­sion mak­ing on many dif­fer­ent levels.”

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