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The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) has, on Wednesday, organised a roundtable discussion between media and civil society organisations (CSOs) on the subject of human rights investigative reporting and advocacy.
The event took place at Corinthia Villa Hotel and Suites, Abuja, and was part of a project funded by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), aimed at investigating and raising public awareness on issues of human rights infringement.
It is the first in a series of four, which have been tagged “Media and CSO Partnership on Human Rights and Justice”.
Tochukwu Ohazuruike, legal and documentation director at the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) and one the roundtable’s facilitators, spoke on the roles of the media and the civil society in human right and justice advocacy and reporting.
He lamented the decline in pro-rights activities both in the media sector and among civil society organisations, wondering what happened to popular rights groups such as Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) that was active inside and outside the campus.
“Where are they today?” he asked. “Where is Civil Liberties Organizations (CLO)? We don’t hear much of them again. How grounded is the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA)? They used to make headlines before. Did they all go to the great beyond with Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN?”
“Virtually all we hear today concerning expositions of human rights violations by state actors in Nigeria is from Amnesty International, a foreign organization and citizen journalists. Media and civil society must wake up before citizen journalism take them out of the equation.
“Except we reorganize, except we collaborate and cooperate, that day may be closer than we all can imagine.”
He also expressed hope in a possible partnership between CSOs and the media towards exposing human rights abuses and cases of injustice.
“There can be successful partnerships between civil society and media for the exposition, advocacy and reporting of Human rights violations,” he said.
“Access to justice projects can be carried out by civil society and reports aired free or subsidized by
the media. That partnership can work. The partnership can accentuate this joint noble role both institutions play in advocacy and reporting of justice and human rights matters.”
Rosemary Otohwo-Olufemi, ICIR Senior Program Officer, said the project is aimed at bringing together the media and CSOs to effectively raise public awareness, and launch robust advocacy campaigns and investigations on human rights and justice issues.
She also informed the participants that the second stage of the project will involve two-day capacity building workshops for journalists and members of CSOs respectively in the area of human rights accountability reporting and effective human rights advocacy campaigns, while the third stage will be investigative content production for journalists and advocacy campaigns for the CSOs in the area of human right violation and justices issues ― all funded by the organisers.
In a communiqué prepared towards the end of roundtable, media houses and CSOs were encouraged to cultivate a mutual relationship in ensuring the protection of human rights and meeting the ends of justice.
It was also agreed that the various organisations must be proactive “and not wait for international organizations to be the ones making all the expositions of massive human rights violations in Nigeria”.