The UN implements Plan of Action to protect journalists
The UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and Impunity has provided funding to a coordinated, sustained framework that aims to address threats facing journalists worldwide.
This came to the fore as the world marked the 10 years celebrations since the UN Chief Executives Board endorsed its Plan of Action arguing “without freedom of expression, and particularly freedom of the press, an informed, active and engaged citizenry is still impossible”.
The UN publication update for May 30, 2022 stated that the plan recognizes how important this work was in the achievement of other development objectives.
It identifies democratic governance and poverty reduction, conservation of the environment and gender equality, empowerment of women, justice and a culture that respects human rights as the key objectives to be achieved over the next ten years.
On September 23, Professor George Nyambuga, Maseno University, spoke at a webinar on safety that was hosted by the UN. 2022 on behalf of the Editors – Guild that continuous harassment and prosecution of journalists is still a major concern.
Prof. Nyambuga also highlighted poor governance, abuse of humanity, and other issues that the UN study of 7 countries in the East African region aims to address.
He stated that the document was intended to increase the ambitions, cooperation, and effectiveness among national, regional, and international organizations working towards a safe working environment for journalists.
“It’s the powerful, prominent focal point for international and localized discourse and has contributed to adoption of resolutions and declaration by the UN Security Council among other organs of the world body”, the don stated.
He pointed out that the UN Plan of Action now has a dedicated indicator in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with robust work programmes spanning awareness – raising, Monitoring and Reporting, Academic Research, Standard Setting and Policy Making, Capacity and Coalition Building.
The Study was done in Ethiopia, Burundi Kenya Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Burundi. The UN Plan of Action’s 10Th Anniversary will be commemorated in Vienna, Austria in November, 2022 following consultations aimed at strengthening and instilling new energy in the Coalition’s and implementation in the face of new ever growing threats to journalists and freedom of expression.
Prof. Nyambuga observed that after the global COVID-19 pandemic which struck the world challenges of mistreating journalists has been attributed to governments’ attempts to silence the voices of reason.
“The legal framework, journalists’ operation under poor conditions and states and governments seeking to control internet access, especially during the electioneering period contributed to slow performance of the media and low levels of press freedom in the 7 countries,” he said.
The don also highlighted national laws, international annual reports, and NGO reports that all contributed to the determination of high levels of impunity.
“Generally media pluralism is quite healthy and this in view of the mushrooming vernacular FM Radio stations, TVs and Print Media. This has greatly expanded the media space and so many developers are willing to invest in the media industry,” he explained.
He stated that although mobile telephony has been widely used, it was very expensive and only a small number of people have access to it. Prof. Nyambuga also condemned the control of media ownership by elites who are promoting the destruction of the less fortunate and the downtrodden.
He cited instances of journalists being kidnapped, assaulted, or even kidnapped as major concerns. He suggested that journalists sometimes get compromised to report on certain stories in favor of powerful people and organizations because they receive poor remuneration.
Other issues include a reduction in audience share, low advertising, poor working conditions and selfcensorship that can be detrimental to the economy and political progress in the countries concerned.
Prof. Nyambuga highlighted the importance of Public Editors, who interact with newsmakers and promote partnership as well as poor relations that can endanger the lives of journalists in their respective counties.
The don pointed out that governments and the state often seek to fill the void created by media houses failing to self-regulate.
This prompted the respective governments and states to take full control of the media, claiming that they were trying to prioritize matters of security and public interest.
Joseph Ouma and Joseph Otieno
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