PRESS RELEASE: A Call Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

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Lagos, Nigeria- 01 November 2019

The Institute for Media and Society, IMS, joins the rest of the world of the freedom-loving world to call for an end to impunity for crimes against journalists.
Journalists, the world over, are recognised as part and parcel of the development strides of their nations. In Nigeria, journalists were central in the successful prosecution of the anti- colonial struggle and the attainment of independence.
In the post-independence period, they have been in the vanguard of such noble assignments as dismantling anti-democratic causes and terminating military rule. Today, after two decades of our fourth attempt in building a democracy, the positive role played by journalists remain paramount.
Unfortunately, the environment and conditions for the practice of journalism have become difficult. For doing their work, journalists find themselves detained and charged in court for treason or terrorism! Reporters who go out to gather information and provide professional coverage get arrested or brutalised! Many have been killed on the line of duty. But no one has been brought to justice in these cases. They remain unsolved murders! Little wonder the 2019 Global Impunity Index, published by the US-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists, CPJ, listed Nigeria among the World’s Worst Impunity Offenders!
Yet, the Constitution of this county mandates the media to hold the government accountable to the people.
We join lovers of freedom and democracy to say that this undemocratic and unacceptable situation must stop. The freedom and effective functioning of the media is essential for the advancement of our democracy.
We call on all state and non-state actors to perform roles to address this situation.
The Government of Nigeria should:
1. Domesticate and implement international instruments which provide for the safety of journalists
2. Amend outdated local legislations which are inimical to the practice of journalism
3. Promptly condemn attacks on journalists and ensure that perpetrators are punished
4. Engage with other stakeholders, especially the civil society and the media, to dialogue and structure arrangement for professional journalism
International organisations. Such as inter-governmental bodies, and independent development agencies, should:
1. Constantly monitor the situation in Nigeria and remind the government of its obligations on the promotion and protection for journalism and freedom of expression in general
2. Regularly condemn attacks on journalists, send special missions to understand in-country situations and disseminate findings widely

Civil society organisations should:
1. Intensify campaigns on journalists’ safety and general welfare
2. Collaborate with the media to deal with the frustrating environment and expand the frontiers of freedom for professional practice
3. Strengthen advocacy to demand justice for journalists who are victims of attacks.

The Media should:
1. Put public information and education on the front burner on the safety and welfare of journalists
2. Remain organised and use their platforms to build synergies with other stakeholders to deal with perpetrators of attacks on its members.
3. Strengthen investigations desks by providing support for investigative reporting on corruption in governance
Issued in Lagos, this day 1st day of November 2019.

Dr Akin Akingbulu
Executive Director
Institute for Media and Society (IMS)