— Call for strong collaboration in the promotion of human rights across the country
The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), with support from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), has completed phase II of its training program intended for Liberian journalists to develop their knowledge and skills in human rights reporting.
Unlike reporting on events, which many Liberian journalists do, Human Rights reporting is a specialized area in which a journalist needs training to become or au courant with. There are principles, legal instruments and jargons that exist for the understanding and protection of human rights.
The INCHR’s training, held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, took into consideration the essential legal tools needed in Human Rights reporting, with facilitators urging the participants to make use of them all.
Furthermore, the training focused on helping Journalists to understand the OHCHR’s mandate, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Maputo Protocol, Ratification/Domestication of Conventions on Human Rights, and Liberian Constitution/Laws and media ethics & the role of the media in promoting, protecting human rights, Gender Mainstreaming in Human Rights Reporting”, Convention on Disabilities, and Convention on Torture.
The training also drilled participants in International Human Rights Principles, Obligations, Standards and Reporting strategies and news reporting ethics in human rights reporting.
Dr. Sonny Onyegbula, Head of Programs at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, highlighted the importance of the training and emphasized that there has been limited training for journalists on human rights.
“In post-conflict nations such as Liberia, there is always a need for the media to benefit from training bordering on human rights, justice and the rule of law so that their reportage reflects respect for human rights and adequately addresses violations of such rights from angles that are objective, accurate, and balanced,” said Onyegbula.
He told participants of the workshop that even those who have been trained need to be refreshed on their knowledge and reporting of human rights issues, calling on the media to take human rights as their business owners and provide a way forward that will help Liberia to be a state free of human rights violation.
Siatta Scott-Johnson, President of the Female Journalist Association of Liberia (FeJAL), in her presentation, said the media need to highlight the rights of vulnerable groups such as women, children, and people living with disabilities in terms of accessing health facilities, education, food, water, and shelter.
According to her, the role of the media in gender mainstreaming has been overemphasized and requires necessary action.
The training marks the end of a series of workshops that were conducted in four phases, with over 200 participants selected from media institutions including community radio stations across the 15 counties.
The first phase of the training was held in Margibi County and brought together journalists from Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount and Margibi counties, while the second was held in Bong County and reporters from Lofa, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Bong Counties assembled there. The third phase of the training was held in Nimba County, where journalists from Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland, and River Gee gathered.
The objective of the training was to enhance the capacity of journalists to report on human rights issues, ensure human rights issues form part of the national discourse by media practitioners across Liberia; and improve human rights education-specific locations.