YAOUNDÉ- Media professionals can create harmony and promote human rights in their societies if they avoid publishing one-sided stories, Experts from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) have said.
This was during a workshop that brought together journalists from eleven African countries who are gathered in Yaoundé since Tuesday.
The journalists were drawn from different countries in the Central African region by the commission to go through training on how to report on human rights.
The issue of publishing one-sided stories by some of the region’s media outlets was pointed out as one of the factors that currently contribute to deterioration of people’s welfare in Africa.
“Ensuring the enjoyment of human rights is a two-way street which requires checks on people in power and a well-informed population,” said ACHPR’s Chairperson, Honorable Justice Sanji Monageng, in a speech read out by the commission’s representative.
He urged journalists to provide space for different views when they report their stories, a practice that is believed to promote harmony among communities.
“Journalists need a capacity to look at problems from more than one perspective and to explain the viewpoints of different participants,” Monageng said.
Cameroon’s Inspector General of the Ministry of Communication, Albert Mbida, pointed out that some journalists on the continent need to revisit principles of presumption of innocence, telling the truth, and avoid interfering with people’s private lives when they write their news stories.
“The accuracy of information published helps to take decisions. There is need [for journalists] to resolutely contribute to peace by producing the truth,” he said.
While the African continent remains one of the world’s scenes of armed-conflicts, misinformation is believed to be one of the factors leading to the clashes.
“Manipulated information is more dangerous than even physical wars,” said Lucien Yaliki, a journalist and Human rights activist based in the Central African Republic.
Close to thirty journalists attended the workshop including those from Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, and Angola.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which organised the training, is an institution working under the organisation of the African Union (AU) to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights on the continent.