As the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists is marked globally today, journalists have been urged to fully explore the provisions of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act to be able to deliver their professional mandate in the achievement of an informed society.
The celebration marked every 2nd of November, arose from a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly at its 68th session in 2013, in recognition of the far-reaching consequences of impunity, especially of crimes against journalists.
The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity.
The 2020 celebration has as its theme, “Strengthening investigations and prosecutions to end impunity for crimes against journalists.”
Speaking to TNC correspondent in Awka on Monday, the Anambra State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Emma Ifesinachi said the FoI Act is in existence but unfortunately journalists are not taking advantage of it.
This according to him, is because no journalist has taken any government agent to court for non-compliance with the provisions of the Act.
“The Act stipulated that journalists when requesting for government information, must do so officially and if the agency fails to respond within seven days, the journalists should take the agency to court. I have not heard that any agency of government has been taken to court on this behest. It is when we start doing that that government will take us serious. It is only when we are exploring the Act and we are having any hitches that we can discuss this. I, therefore, appeal to journalists to acquaint themselves with the provisions of that Act so that they can explore its provisions,” he said.
On the celebration, the Anambra NUJ Boss urged government at all levels to learn to respect the fundamental rights of journalists to do their work independently as well as create safe environment for them to operate in the best interest of the society.
Ifesinachi who noted that the role of journalists is very key in ensuring that the governed are effectively mobilized to key into government policies, regretted that journalists still face serious dangers in the discharge of their work even to the point of death.
In his words, “the 2020 commemoration of the celebration is significant because it is coming at a time of sustained violence on the media and journalists across the world.
“Media’s critical role reinforces the need for respect of the fundamental rights of journalists to do their work independently and in safety, in line with International Treaties which most countries are signatories to.
“Regrettably, the world has continued to witness undue attacks of journalists and media equipment which constitute serious threat to Press Freedom.”
Ifesinachi further advocated greater collaboration between Anambra State Government and journalists for more beneficial and result-oriented information on government activities.
“I strongly believe that government must see the media more as partners than as antagonists. This is because no government can succeed without the media and the role they play. The recognition of this fact will spur in government, the willingness to partner more with journalists to ensure that they are supported to do their work more professionally,” he said.
He further urged journalists in the state to endeavor to practice within the confines of the ethics of the profession, warning that the Council will not protect or defend any journalist who abuses the ethics of the profession.