By Tichaona Kurewa
THE regional stakeholder consultations conference for the United Nations Plan of Action Roadmap for Africa to end impunity of crimes against journalists ended this Saturday in Victoria Falls.
Media practitioners resolved to form a continental board to double efforts to protect media practitioners.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the UNPA on the safety of journalists and the commemorations have come at a time crimes against journalists are a topical issue globally.
“Among the resolutions that came out of this conference was the need to form a coalition that brings together different stakeholders when it comes to matters of the safety of journalists, that is the civil society, media associations, academia, development partners such as UNESCO, NGOs and every other person to ensure that issues that affect the safety of journalists are addressed,” said Ms Lydia Gachungi, a representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
Journalists from the region indicated that the two-day conference attended by various stakeholders including the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Zimbabwe Media Commission, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and others was enlightening.
“The conference was very enlightening, especially to the tools that are available for us as media practitioners to protect ourselves when conducting our work,” said a journalist from Malawi.
“We learnt a lot on the safety of journalists and how we can just protect them, how we can develop mechanisms to develop in the country and continental to protect them,” added another from Somalia.
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists noted the government’s efforts to protect journalists.
“The major takeaway is that the Government has continued to give us a commitment that they want to ensure that the operating environment for journalists is safe. It is going to work all systems out to ensure that there is an end to impunity for crimes against journalists. We think that this is important but is it important that it doesn’t end as a talk show but must be transformed into action,” said Perfect Hlongwane, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.
Despite the noble goals of the UNPA, the last few years have witnessed an alarming rise in the number of attacks on journalists and media practitioners in the region and beyond.