Safety of Journalists High on the Agenda of WPF Day 2018

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO

The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity are at the top of the agenda for the 2018 edition of the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD2018), scheduled to take place in Accra, Ghana, on May 2 and 3,  as the event seeks to encourage discussions and promote understanding and awareness about current challenges to freedom of expression as well as achievements in the sector.

The WPFD 2018 aims to, among other things, sensitise governments and other stakeholders on the need to adopt and apply laws that create an enabling environment for freedom of expression, the right to information and the safety of journalists, online and offline, as part of achieving Goal 16 in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event will explore the theme: Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law.

It is meant to provide a forum for diverse actors to discuss the interplay between media, the judiciary and the rule of law, within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The WPFD2018 Conference will be a mix of parallel sessions, conferences, training workshops and side events which will include photo exhibitions, as well as concerts and film screening.

Several topics have been slated for discussion during the two-day event and these include:

 Media under Fire: What are the new challenges to press freedom 27 years after the Windhoek Declaration?

  • •          Focus on investigative Journalism: Uncovering corruption and political malpractice
  • Right to information: How can freedom of Information laws contribute to sustainable development in Africa?
  • Covering elections and electoral campaigns: old and new challenges in times of media disinformation
  • Ensuring the Rule of Law and fighting impunity: What role for the judiciary in enhancing freedom of expression?
  • Investigative Journalism: Ethics and risk mitigation
  • Criminalization of speech offenses– when the law is used as a tool to silence critical voices
  • Debate: Does online speech need regulation or self-regulation?
  • Encryption, Source Protection and Online rights: Protecting Journalists’ Information in the Digital Age
  • Sexual and gender-based harassment in the media industry
  • Changing the Gaze: Repositioning Africa through Press Photography and Videography National Mechanisms for the Safety of Journalists in Africa
  • International Media Organizations: Ensuring effective safety protocols for journalists
  • UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators
  • Artistic freedom in the digital age

It is intended that local NGOs and media actors across the world will take ownership of WPFD with 100 national events expected to complement the main celebration.

Key stakeholders will also be engaged and partnerships initiated for the replication of UNESCO’s training of judges and judicial officials on safety of journalists and freedom of expression in Western Africa, following the success of similiar initiatives in Latin America as well as Southern and Eastern Africa.

Through Academic Conference on the Safety of Journalists, the Journalism Safety Research Network will be strengthened and expanded while creating greater synergies between research findings and work of international media development community.

The youth being critical stakeholders, young reporters and media students will be sensitized to emerging challenges regarding press freedom and freedom of expression, and their journalistic capacities reinforced through live coverage of a major international event, mentored by media professionals.

Participants will also share good practices on media’s role in elections to support work of the Inter- agency Coordination Mechanism for UN Electoral Assistance (ICMEA).

The WPFD2018 will also ensure that media organizations have enhanced engagement on press freedom and safety of journalists issues, through coverage, blogs and dedicated webpages in the run-up to WPFD.