International Press Institute joins African media stakeholders in strengthening Digital Platform for Safety of Journalists

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, publishers, and leading journalists for media freedom, has formally joined the media stakeholders in Africa engaged in the Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists, having signed a partnership agreement to strengthen the platform.

This platform is a joint effort between African media associations and networks, civil society, INGOs, the African Union Bodies with a mandate to promote media freedom on the continent, and with support from the UNESCO Multi-donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists.

This new partnership aims at enhancing the capacity of the Platform to monitor and systematically collect data on press freedom violations in Africa. It is also aligned to the platform’s mission, which is to promote partnerships, prevent violations, protect journalism and journalists, and provide credible information to facilitate the prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against journalists in Africa.

The Platform will further leverage IPI’s considerable experience in monitoring press freedom violations to enhance the capacity of the African media stakeholders to monitor, report and advocate for follow-up actions by duty and right bearers, with a view to improving the safety of journalists on the continent. Furthermore, the partnership will bring on board the much-needed expertise and sharing of good practices by IPI through technical assistance to improve the Platform’s website usability, functionality and overall navigation.

This partnership means a lot to journalists on the continent as the Platform will ensure that violence against journalists and media workers are monitored and reported, and perpetrators are brought to justice. The ultimate aim of the Platform is to end impunity for crimes committed against journalists and to work with media stakeholders and governments to create an enabling environment for the media to flourish.  

The Chairperson of the African Editors Forum (TAEF), Jovial Ranato, said “I welcome this much needed support from our partner, the International Press Institute, which will strengthen further the capacity of this Pan African initiative, designed to protect African journalists and enhance media freedom on the continent”.

The Chairperson of the Platform’s Steering Committee, Pa Louis Thomasi said that as  a first step, IPI will partner with the Digital Platform on the editorial and technical levels to promote the collection and categorization of robust, gender-disaggregated data on press freedom violations and attacks on journalists in Africa by local partners and press freedom groups. “The partnership will also ensure that the Platform’s website is more accessible to the public, researchers, advocates, and policymakers”.

Speaking during the virtual signing ceremony, IPI Executive Director, Barbara Trionfi, expressed the IPI’s commitment to this partnership. “We are thrilled to partner with the members of the Platform’s steering committee to contribute to its further development, and we look forward to bringing in the knowledge that we have developed from similar platforms and monitoring initiatives in other parts of the world.

Trionfi further said that the Digital Platform on Safety of Journalists has tremendous potential as a monitoring and advocacy tool to help defend press freedom and tackle impunity for crimes against journalists across Africa.

IPI’s new partnership is in line with the multi-stakeholder approach advocated globally in addressing the multifaceted challenges facing the media the world over. “UNESCO, therefore, welcomes this new partnership which is aligned to our shared approach in advocating for the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors through engagement with different actors,” said Lydia Gachungi, UNESCO’s Addis Ababa Liaison Office to AU and UNECA Regional Adviser on Safety of Journalists.

The African digital platform is managed by a Steering Committee of 5 representatives of African media stakeholders. They include the media associations, represented by the African Editors Forum (TAEF), the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), and civil society, represented by Article 19. Other members are four African Union Bodies, represented at the Steering Committee by the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and UNESCO, providing technical and financial support.

The Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists in Africa is a Pan African project by the African media stakeholders, launched by the Chairperson of the African Union in 2021, H.E the President of South Africa. Its development greatly benefited from the technical guidance and partly modelling on the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists, of which IPI is a member.

IPI’s work under this partnership is supported by the Government of Canada’s Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion (OHRFI).

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