The Institute for Media and Society (IMS) has joined the global community in celebrating World Press Freedom Day, calling for a renewed commitment to the protection of journalists, the creation of an enabling environment for journalism and freedom of expression work, and the promotion of democracy.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a Driver for All Other Human Rights.”
While acknowledging the importance of free and independent media as a cornerstone of democracy and development, IMS sees the day as an opportunity to appreciate the contributions of journalists and the media, and to seek improvement in their work and conditions.
“In Nigeria, the media has played an important role in promoting transparency, accountability, and good governance. Journalists and other professionals have frequently exposed corruption, human rights violations, and reported on public-interest events, issues, and trends. However, journalists have faced obstacles that jeopardize their ability to do their work without fear or favor.
“During Nigeria’s recent elections, journalists experienced physical attacks, arrests, harassment, intimidation, and denial of access to election activities. These were perpetrated by state and non-state actors. There has also been government regulation through imposition of arbitrary sanctions such as heavy fines, and anti-media legislations that are used to persecute media professionals.”
IMS calls on the government to develop an up-to-date, international standard public policy for the information sector, reform media legislations and broadcasting regulations in consonance with the direction of the Media Policy, make the National Human Rights Protection Action Plan recently approved by the Federal Executive Council publicly available for citizens’ contribution and engagements, investigate and address all pending cases on attacks on journalists and other media professionals including those committed during the recent elections, remove all obnoxious laws such as those on sedition, criminal defamation etc., and implement the judgments of the ECOWAS court which mandated the amendments of section 24 of the Cyber Crime Act.
IMS salutes the media stakeholders in Nigeria for the establishment of a National Media Complaints Commission and implores them to ensure the effective management and sustainability while enjoining stakeholders to give maximum support to the initiative. IMS calls on journalists and the media to remain resolute in performing their constitutional assigned task of holding the government accountable to the people.