The Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, stepped down last month as Convenor of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) after serving the maximum two terms of two years each allowed under the network’s “Governance Articles”.
The Convenor is the Chair of the 13-member IFEX Council, which is the oversight body of the global network of freedom of expression organizations, and presides over Council meetings. The Convenor has the power to convene meetings of any IFEX standing committee and is responsible for ensuring the implementation and follow-up of Council decisions.
Mr. Ojo was first elected a Council member and Convenor of IFEX at the 15th General Meeting of the network held in Oslo, Norway, in June 2009. His first two-year term expired in June 2011, following which he was re-elected at the 16th General Meeting held in Beirut, Lebanon, that month.
By virtue of his position as Convenor, Mr. Ojo was also a member of the Executive Committee of IFEX. The Executive Committee considers applications for membership of IFEX and makes recommendations on such applications to the General Meeting. It also assists the Council by dealing with crises and issues that may arise and by dealing with any other requests made by Council. The Executive Committee acts as an ad hoc trouble-shooting committee of the Council.
The Executive Committee is made up of the Convenor; the Deputy Convenor; a representative of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), which hosts the IFEX Secretariat; two other Council members, who are elected by Council at its first meeting after the General Meeting.
The Ojo-led Council was dissolved at the expiration of its tenure at the 17th General Meeting and Strategy Conference of IFEX which took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from June 17 to 20, 2013 to pave way for the election of a new Council.
IFEX Executive Director, Ms Annie Game, praised the Council members for their dedication and commitment, saying although the debates and discussions on various issues at Council meetings were often heated, the Council members always found a way to reach a resolution in the best interest of IFEX.
She told IFEX members gathered at the General Meeting: “Believe me when I tell you that they (the Council members) truly represented you – the members.”
In a brief remark, Mr. Ojo thanked his colleagues on the dissolved Council for their work on behalf of IFEX, saying it had been a privilege for him to work with them over the last two years and some of them, for four years.
He said he was proud of what they had achieved together during their tenure in strengthening the IFEX network and taking it to greater heights.
Mr. Ojo urged the dissolved Council members to continue to put their knowledge, expertise and experience at the disposal of the IFEX network in the years to come.
Following fresh elections at the General Meeting, Mr. Ojo was succeeded as Convenor by Ms Barbara Trionfi, Press Freedom Manager at the International Press Institute in Vienna, Austria, while Mr. Wesley Gibbings, President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers in Trinidad and Tobago, is the new Deputy Convenor, succeeding Ms Melinda Quintos de Jesus, Executive Director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility in Manila, the Philippines, who was Deputy Convenor under Mr. Ojo.
Other members of the new Council are: Mr. Arnold Amber, President of the Board of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) in Toronto, Canada; Mr. Sulemana Braimoh, Deputy Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in Accra, Ghana; Barbora Bukovska, Senior Director of Law at ARTICLE 19 in London, UK; Ms Masjaliza Hamzah, Executive Officer of the Centre for Independent Journalism in Kuala Kumpur, Malaysia; Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, Chairman of the Board of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights in Cairo, Egypt; and Mr. Andrés D’Alessandro, Executive Director of Foro de Periodismo Argentino (Argentine Journalism Forum) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The rest members of the Council are: Ms Corina Cepoi, Director of the Chisinau School of Advanced Journalism at the Independent Journalism Centre in Chisinau, Moldova; Ms Jacqui Park, Director of the Asia-Pacific Region of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in Brussels, Belgium; Ms Zoe Titus, Regional Director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in Windhoek, Namibia; Ms Riham Abu Aita, Public Relation Officer of the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) in Ramallah, Palestine; and Marian Botsford Fraser of the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International in London, UK.