Media Rights Agenda, MRA has called on the Federal Government to facilitate the establishment of mechanisms to combat impunity for attacks and violence against media workers in order to ensure accountability for such acts and discourage future attacks.
MRA made the call in a press statement issued in commemoration of this year’s International Day to End Impunity for crimes against journalists.
MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, insisted that developing and implementing strategies for combatting impunity for attacks and violence against journalists and other media workers was one of the most effective ways of responding to the high incidence of crimes against journalists in the country and preventing future attacks.
He said: “Any failure on the part of government to take decisive action to end impunity for crimes against journalists and put mechanisms in place to respond to, punish perpetrators and prevent future attacks will create a vicious circle where journalists do not get justice for the crimes committed against them while the perpetrators are emboldened and will continue such attacks unchecked.”
Mr. Ojo gave the options available to the Government in developing and implementing such strategies to include the establishment of a multi-stakeholder independent commission; the creation of special investigative units; or the appointment of a special prosecutor as well as the adoption of specific protocols and methods for investigating cases and prosecuting the perpetrators of such attacks while also protecting journalists and media workers who are threatened.
He said the mandate of such a body or official would conceivably include conducting speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations into all cases of alleged violence, threats and attacks against journalists and media workers, such as physical attacks, assaults, cases of torture, unlawful arrests and detention, threats to life or of physical harm, seizure or destruction of professional equipment, and bringing the perpetrators to justice, including those who ordered the attacks, conspired to carry them out, aided and abetted or covered up such crimes. The mechanism would also ensure that victims and their families have access to appropriate compensations, assistance and restitution.
Mr. Ojo called on the Federal Government to urgently convene a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the matter in detail, agree on the most effective national mechanism to be adopted and decide how it should operate as well as its powers and functions.