The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) in collaboration with UNESCO under the Global Media Defence Fund (GMDF) Project held a one-day Consultative Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday, August 30th.
The workshop, which was themed “Defending Journalists and Media Workers Rights by Seeking Redress through the Courts”, aimed to set up a “ FAJ Lawyer’s Network” who are willing to work with FAJ-affiliated unions across the continent to defend freedom of expression and media freedom by challenging media violations in court.
The workshop brought together members of the FAJ Steering Committee, union leaders, lawyers, and a representative of the Pan-African Lawyers Association (PALU).
Omar Faruk Osman Nur, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and FAJ Steering Committee member said that the workshop holds great importance as it is a call for safeguarding journalists’ rights and upholding media freedoms through legal avenues.
“It serves as a clarion call for safeguarding journalists’ rights and upholding media freedoms through judicious legal avenues.
It is distressing to acknowledge that certain African governments have weaponised the judicial process to validate the incarceration or maltreatment of journalists, gravely infringing upon their basic rights,” said Omar.
Misako Ito, Regional Advisor for Communication and Information at UNESCO Multi-Sectoral Regional Office for Eastern Africa, said that over the past ten years, a journalist has been killed on average every four days.
“Close to 9 out of 10 cases of journalist killing remain judicially unsolved. Women journalists face the additional risk of gender-based violence, online and offline. We remain worried by statistics that suggest increasing violence towards women in the field: in 2021 for instance the percentage of women among all journalists killed almost doubled, rising to 11% from 6% the previous year.”
She also expressed concern over the increasing violence towards women journalists.
UNESCO will continue to collaborate with the judiciary and partners like FAJ and journalists’ unions across the conti FAJ Lawyer’s Networknent to protect fundamental freedoms and end impunity for crimes against journalists.
The highlight of the workshop was the formation of and the identification of Coordinators of the Network in West, Eastern, and Central Africa.
The workshop also identified a number of cases that its Lawyers will challenge in court.
This initiative by FAJ and UNESCO is expected to provide greater legal protection for journalists and uphold media freedom in Africa.