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The GPU-WAJA Workshop

Oct 14, 2008, 6:32 AM

At least some 30 journalists across West Africa are already brainstorming on the role of journalists in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and the promotion of human rights in the sub region at the Kairaba Beach Hotel. The workshop will culminate in the maiden edition of the WAJA Excellence Awards on Thursday, 16 October 2008, when journalists who have distinguished themselves in the areas of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and human rights will be honoured. And our own Deyda Hydara has been chosen for a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award.

The three strands of the workshop are pertinent to the development of the sub region. Just about a decade ago, the West Africa sub region was awash with wars that resulted in the untold loss of lives and property. The countries directly involved in the wars are still reeling from the ravages. It would take a while longer yet for them to get back on sound footing. And other countries that were affected indirectly through the influx of refugees fleeing their turbulent countries also had their resources over-stretched; they are still struggling to regain their equilibrium.

In a way, this workshop is meant to draw attention to the futility of war and what must be done to prevent the sub region from sliding again down the path of death and destruction and desolation.

Among the key issues that the participants will be concerned with during the three-day workshop are: building journalists' awareness on their role in the promotion of peace and human rights; improving journalists' understanding of their role in the preservation of peace. The others include improving and broadening the understanding and perspectives of journalists' on human rights and peace issues and drawing up the journalists' code of good conduct for peace reporting.

If the participants internalise and put into practice these weighty issues, they will be able to set a new agenda of peace, progress and prosperity for the sub region.

The workshop also shows that West African journalists are very much alive to their responsibility to make the sub region a just and prosperous place where everyone will be assured of a better life. Because of this immense responsibility being shouldered by the media, state authorities would be wise therefore to repeal all draconian press laws and allow journalists free rein to do their job for the common good.

We would like to commend the Gambia Press Union, the Capacity Building Project of the West African Journalists' Association (CBP-WAJA), the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), Trust Bank (The Gambia) Limited, Gambega, and ECObank for making this all-important workshop a reality.