JADE Cameroun Trains Journalists on Human Rights Reporting

Participants at the workshop

The non-profit organisation "Journalistes en Afrique Pour le Dévelopement",JADE has upgraded the skills of over 30 journalists in Cameroon, on human rights reporting in a four-day seminar in Douala, Littoral region. The workshop that ran under the theme, “ A Free Press To Promote Human Rights” took place between October 13-16,2020.

During the four-day workshop, the national coordinator of JADE Cameroun Etienne Tasse urged participants to uphold the ethics of the profession and work within the confines of the law while executing their duties. 

At least 30 journalists attending the workshop have embarked on digging under-reported stories in Cameroon related to political and civil rights. 

“This project is justified by the present context . For some years our country is facing several crises. Faced with insecurity, human rights is being violated. It is important for a journalist to speak, cover in a professional way, so that the population will be sensitized, while expecting that the information published will alert the state on these diverse violations, so that the state can follow up and punish the culprits.”, justified Etienne Tasse.

He expressed worry over human rights violations concerns in Cameroon that has made the country drop 9 places in a human rights index conducted by Reporters without Borders.

“ And we have dropped from 9 places in the past three years. We intend to work on it so that in three years we can ameliorate our profession”, he reassured.

During various presentations, it was revealed that there is little media space given to human rights stories in Cameroon, as revealed by a study carried out by JADE from the 15th of June to the 31st July 2020 and which focused on 23 media entities (11 print, 8 radios and 4 TV stations) as target.

There was therefore a need for this project, so as to have more stories related to human rights violations, covered and prioritised in media houses.

Sponsored by the European Union, it’s representative, Enrico Sborgi, on a social media intervention during the workshop appraised the project highlighting the important role journalists play in the society. 

He encouraged all journalists present to seize the opportunity to upgrade their skills on human rights coverage. 

According to organisers, the general objective of this project is to contribute to respect for the rights of journalists and vulnerable groups.

“The specific objective is to strengthen the media to make them able to protect the freedom of human rights-oriented journalists.”, it said.

As the project takes three years, it is expected that 1 to 30 journalists will be reinforced on press freedom and human rights, media strengthened on media marketing and networked, defend and protect press freedom, Police and gendarmerie officials, lawyers, magistrates, administrative authorities and civil society more sensitive to the rights of journalists and vulnerable groups.

One of the facilitators, Barrister Solange Tchamba Mbianga said journalists who practice outside the framework defined by the law are liable to offenses and consequently incur various sanctions.

“You cannot publish everything, write on everything and communicate on everything in the name of press freedom and the right to information. Press freedom and social communication is not an absolute right.”, she stressed 

Her contribution was appraised by many journalists in attendance as she went further to highlight the risks and opportunities for journalists chased by the intimidators.

She warned against invading private lives of personalities as this has sent several journalists in jail and summons.

The Barrister further outlined that article 74 of the 1990 law on social communication, notably on press offenses refers to the provisions of the penal code for the penalties applicable to offenses committed by means of the media and audiovisual communication.

“This law also provides for certain offenses, the violation of which is punishable by fines. Under the banner of the anti-terrorism law, many journalists are arrested and prosecuted in special courts. Also the activity of media professionals on social networks can also engage their responsibility. The national communication council can also pronounce prohibitions, suspensions of exercise.” She said.

By Brenda Nsodzefe

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