The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, publishers and leading journalists for media freedom, has announced that it has formally joined media stakeholders in Africa operating the Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists as it has signed a partnership agreement to strengthen the platform.
The platform ((https://safetyofjournalistsinafrica.africa/), which is a joint initiative of African media associations and networks, civil society organizations, international non-governmental organizations, and some African Union bodies, has a mandate to promote media freedom on the African continent and is supported by the Multi-donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Speaking at the virtual signing ceremony, IPI’s Executive Director, Barbara Trionfi, expressed IPI’s commitment to the partnership, saying “We are thrilled to partner with the respected members of the Platform’s steering committee to contribute to the Platform’s further development, and we look forward to bringing in the knowledge that we have developed from similar platforms and monitoring initiatives in other parts of the world”.
According to her, the Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists has tremendous potential as a monitoring and advocacy tool to help defend press freedom and tackle impunity for crimes against journalists across Africa.
The partnership with IPI is aimed at enhancing the capacity of the platform to monitor and systematically collect data on press freedom violations in Africa, which is also aligned to the Platform’s mission to promote partnerships, prevent violations, protect journalism and journalists, and provide credible information to facilitate the prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against journalists in Africa.
The Platform is also expected to further leverage IPI’s experience in monitoring press freedom violations to enhance the capacity of African media stakeholders to monitor, report and advocate for follow-up actions by duty and right bearers, with a view to improving the safety of journalists on the continent.
In addition, the partnership will seek to harness additional expertise and sharing of good practices by IPI through technical assistance to improve the Platform’s website usability, functionality and overall navigation.
Expressing appreciation, Jovial Rantao, Chairperson of The African Editors Forum (TAEF), said: “I welcome this much-needed support from our partner the International Press Institute, which African media stakeholders believe is to strengthen further the capacity of this Pan African initiative, designed to protect African journalists and enhance media freedom on the continent”
Speaking in similar vein, Louis Thomasi, Africa Director of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Chairperson of the Platform’s Steering Committee, noted that “This partnership means a lot to journalists on the continent as the Platform will ensure that violence against journalists and media workers are monitored and reported and perpetrators are brought to justice. The ultimate aim of the Platform is to end impunity for crimes committed against journalists and to work with media stakeholders and governments to create an enabling environment for the media to flourish”
IPI explained that as a first step, it will partner with the Platform on the editorial and technical levels to promote the collection and categorization of robust, gender-disaggregated data on press freedom violations and attacks on journalists in Africa by local partners and press freedom groups and that the partnership will also ensure that the Platform website is more accessible to the public, researchers, advocates, and policymakers.
UNESCO has also welcomed the partnership between the Platform and IPI as consistent with the multi-stakeholder approach advocated for globally in addressing the multifaceted challenges facing the media the world over.
According to Lydia Gachungi, UNESCO’s Regional Adviser on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists and head of its Addis Ababa Liaison Office to African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), “UNESCO therefore welcomes this new partnership which is aligned to our shared approach in advocating for the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors through engagement with different actors”
The Platform is managed by a steering committee comprised of five representatives of African media stakeholders, including media associations, represented by the TAEF and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ); and civil society, represented by Article 19. Other members are four AU bodies, represented on the steering committee by the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and UNESCO, providing technical and financial support.
The Platform is a pan-African project by African media stakeholders, launched by AU Chairperson and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. It was developed with technical support and guidance of the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists, which it is also partly modelled on.
IPI said its work under the partnership is supported by the Government of Canada’s Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion (OHRFI).