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Conflict Prevention, Peace Keeping, Top Agenda, As Sub-regional Workshop for Journalists Opens

Oct 16, 2008, 5:12 AM | Article By: Baboucarr Senghore

At least thirty participants from the sub region are currently taking part in a three-day sub-regional workshop organised by The Gambia Press Union (GPU) in collaboration with West African Journalist Association (WAJA). Already underway at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, key issues top the agenda foremost of which are the role of journalists in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and the promotion of human rights.

The workshop, which among other objectives, seeks to create awareness for journalists on their role in the preservation and promotion of peace and human rights, improving and broadening the capacity of journalists on human rights and peace issues, will later today be followed by the first edition of the (WAJA) Excellence Award 2008.

The award ceremony, to be hosted by the GPU, will honour the three best reports of practising West African journalists in print media, radio and television in the areas of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and human rights.

Declaring the workshop open on Tuesday, Madam Fatim Badjie-Janneh, Secretary of State for Communication, Information and Information Technology underscored the important roles of journalists in the promotion of peace and prevention of conflicts, adding that the workshop is coming at an appropriate time.

"Over the past decades, we have seen and witnessed human rights abuses and conflicts around the world particularly in Africa. This has stifled development and the media at one point were accused of fuelling conflicts with a classic example of the genocide in Rwanda.

"Therefore, it is time for journalists to negate this stigma and positively contribute to peace building, conflict prevention, peace keeping and promotion of human rights", she said.

Secy. Badjie-Janneh went on to highlight government's recognition of the importance and relevance of the journalist to nation building.

She commended the GPU and WAJA for organising such an important workshop of such relevance to our geo-political and socio-economic environment.

In her welcoming remarks, Ms Ndey Tapha Sosseh, President of the Gambia Press Union, noted that the GPU partnership with WAJA to organise a sub-regional activity that seeks to put journalism and the media at the hearts of debates on fostering peace, conflict prevention with a particular emphasis on human rights was not a coincidence.

"We believe that journalists are key stakeholders in building conflict free zones, preserving the peace and promoting peaceful initiatives and at all times upholding the principles of human rights as enshrined in our national constitutions and international human rights instruments that our governments are signatory to," she added.

For his part, Ibrahim Famakan Coulibally, President of WAJA expressed his association's resolve to always build the capacity of journalists and promote freedom of the media.

He however called on its partners to always support WAJA, which he described as the only and most important professional organisation of journalists in West Africa.

Mr. Coulibally appealed to governments to release all journalists who are currently under detention and carry out investigation of cases involving the murder of journalists.