The United Nations has condemned the killings of “at least, 59 media workers in 2020”.
The UN said there was need to stand up for access to information and factual reporting “as a public good”.
On average, over the past decade, one journalist has lost their life every four days, according to the UN Educational, Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in a statement.
Although 2020 saw one of the lowest tolls in years, UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, said that “rarely, if ever, had journalism been so relevant to democracy and to the protection of human rights, as the world continues battling the Coronavirus and the ‘infodemic’ that surrounds it”.
The pandemic has been a “perfect storm” that has affected press freedom worldwide, Azoulay said, adding that “protecting journalism is protecting the truth”.
With 22 killings each, Latin America and the Caribbean, together with Asia and the Pacific, registered the highest number of fatalities among journalists.
This was followed by the Arab States Region with nine deaths and Africa with six.
Impunity for crimes against journalists has continued to prevail in nearly nine out of 10 cases, despite a small improvement in 2020, UNESCO said.
The 2020 UNESCO Director-General’s Report on the “Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity”, published to coincide with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, provided insight into the patterns of killings of journalists over the past two years, the statement said.
The launch of the report was accompanied by a high-impact global awareness-raising campaign from UNESCO, Protect Journalists, Protect the Truth.
“All too many killings still occur and non-fatal attacks and harassment continue to soar. 2020 brought to the fore the dangers facing journalists as they report on protests such as Black Lives Matter demonstrations and other movements around the world”, UNESCO said.
Earlier this year, the agency identified 125 protests in 65 countries at which journalists were attacked or arrested, between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2020.
Twenty-one of these events took place during the first half of 2020, but the number of incidents has gone on rising during the second half of the year.
Additionally, said UNESCO, the safety of women journalists remains a major source of concern.
“Targeted for their profession and gender, women journalists are particularly affected by online harassment and gender-based violence.”
Challenges to the safety of journalists were exacerbated by Covid-19, the statement said.
“The crisis it unleashed has threatened the very viability and survival of professional media outlets, due to the associated advertising revenue loss, creating an even more precarious environment for media workers with new challenges to their right to seek, receive and impart information.”
Additionally, in many countries, emergency legislation and measures adopted to curtail the spread of the virus have served as an alibi to restrict freedom of expression and of the press, the agency noted.
Journalists have also been prosecuted for exposing the failings in how governments have handled the pandemic.
Together, these conditions have formed what many have called a “perfect storm”, UNESCO added, leading to fear that the profession of journalism risks facing “extinction”, as noted in the agency’s brief Journalism, Press Freedom and Covid-19.
FG Moves To Stop Influx Of Illegal Aliens
The Federal Government has promised to put measures in place to end the movement of illegal immigrants into the country to secure the country.
The government stated that the era where aliens easily enter the country with fake travel documents must stop.
The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, according to a statement on Saturday by the Director of Press of the Ministry, Afonja Ajibola, disclosed this when the Director, the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dasuki Arabi visited him.
The statement read, “The Minister assured he is working seriously on efficient ways at securing Nigeria borders; saying a situation where illegal aliens easily find their ways into the country often with fake travel documents has to be stopped. In his view, Nigeria cannot be secured if its borders are not secured”.
The Minister also said the Ministry was ready to partner with the BPSR in proffering effective solutions to the nation’s security challenges, especially in securing the nation’s borders.
“I am ready to actively collaborate with the Bureau of Public Service Reforms to find solutions to our security challenges,” he was quoted as saying.
ECOWAS Condemns Plot To Obstruct Peace In Sierra Leone
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the plot by some individuals to disturb peace in Sierra Leone.
The condemnation is contained in a statement issued by ECOWAS in Abuja, yesterday.
ECOWAS said, “The bloc has learnt, with utter disgust, a plot by certain individuals to aquire arms and disturb the peace and constitutional order in Sierra Leone.
“ECOWAS condemns this act and calls for the arrest and prosecution of everyone involved in the illegality.
“The bloc has always maintained its zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of government.
“We want to reaffirm our commitment to supporting the government and the people of Sierra Leone’s quest to deepen democracy and good governance by consolidating peace and security so as to foster socio-economic development”.
Earlier, the Sierra Leonean Government had declared a 24-hour nationwide curfew in a proactive step to ensure that the peace is not tampered with.
Bad Roads Fuelling Insecurity In N’East -Govs
Worried by the security challenges confronting the region, governors of the North East have resolved to embark on more collaborative efforts among member states to come up with a security architecture design for the region.
The governors noted that bad federal roads are fuelling insecurity in the region and called on the Federal Ministry of Works to follow through with road contracts awarded in the region.
This is contained in a communique issued at the end of the 9th meeting of the forum, held at the banquet hall of the Adamawa State Government House in Yola last Saturday.
According to a statement signed by the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, the forum said there was a need for a robust platform for regional economic development and resolved to work as an entity in strengthening the human capacity and socio-economic development of its people.
The communique read in part, “Forum is continuously disturbed about the poor infrastructural base of the region. More concerned that the federal roads within and between the states in the region have been neglected.
“We call on the Federal Ministry of Works to follow through with road contracts awarded in the region. The poor road network is fuelling insecurity stalling development and making life more difficult for our people in the region.
“Forum notes that the bad federal roads within and between the states are major setbacks to the infrastructural development of the region.
“Forum notes the poor energy situation in the region. To mitigate the situation, Forum resolved to work with Shanghai Electric to construct a 60 MW Coal Power Power Plant in each state of the region.
“Forum decried the lack of modern rail projects in the region and called for repairs on the old gauge rail lines which no longer useful and sustainable technology. Forum calls for inclusion of the region into the Nigerian National Railway Transport Plan using the Modern Guage rail.”
On climate change and environmental degradation, the forum resolved to strengthen its collaboration with all initiatives such as the Great Green Wall and the Global Initiative of Carbon Credit financing.
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