Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), in collaboration with New York-based Freedom House Inc, a freedom of expression (FoE) advocacy organisation, has trained monitors from West African countries to rate freedom of expression in West Africa. The monitors were trained in Accra, Ghana from May 22 to 24, 2013 and they are expected to carry out part of the activities.
The freedom of expression rating, called the West African Freedom of Expression Index will ‘name and shame’ countries with bad conditions related to FoE in the sub-region. The Index will also provide evidence-based information for regional advocacy interventions for redress of FoE violations and reform of inimical media and FoE legislation to help entrench FoE in the democratisation processes of the various countries in the region.
The training of monitors which was facilitated by media experts from both the West African sub-region and the United States was a follow-up to the experts’ meeting which had worked out the modalities for the project. The training introduced monitors to the adopted methodology for the index and practical sessions and it helped them to understand the data collection instrument that will be used in gathering data.
It also introduced them to the kind of information the questions seek to elicit and how to score indicators for the overall ratings.
The index will provide evidence-based information for regional advocacy interventions for redress of Freedom of expression violations. It will also help in advocacy interventions for reform of inimical media and freedom of expression legislation.
Overall, the index is meant to help entrench freedom of expression in the democratization processes of the various countries in the region.
The index is an initiative of Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) aimed at creating awareness about freedom of expression in the region. An index will be produced on a biennial basis beginning from 2014. It will rate all 16 ECOWAS countries on Freedom of Expression conditions.
Media Rights Agenda (MRA) was involved in the development of the methodology for the index and is also taking part in training of researchers for the different countries in West Africa.
As part of the preparatory stages for the development of the Index, a group of media experts met in Accra on March 26 and 27, 2013, to develop and adopt a suitable methodology for the index. The two-day experts’ meeting discussed, developed and adopted a suitable methodology for the Index.