They gathered on December 28, 2023, in Douala, Cameroon during the official closing workshop of JADE’s 3-year project on promoting press freedom and Human Rights.
During the one-day workshop that gathered on Thursday, 28th of December 2023 in Douala, various stakeholders engaged in the 3-year project dubbed: “A free press to promote Human Rights”, it was disclosed that there has been active participation of media practitioners in the treatment of issues related to Human Rights, yet several loopholes need to be filled in.
According to the local based network known as “Journalistes en Afrique pour le developpement “, JADE, the project launched on October 2020 has gone a long way and covered miles thanks to the financial support of the European Union.
From statistics released in the third inquiry conducted by JADE in the media landscape as concerns Human Rights issues’ coverage, of the 30 journalists trained by the organization, 19 were fully engaged and were granted effective support in the course of their investigative reports and programs; 815 articles have been produced in different media outlets; series of workshops were organized with the different actors and even to upskill media men.
Added to the above, the 42-month project paved the way for a capacity-building workshop on media marketing, which targeted Executive Managers, Station Managers, News publishers, and Editor-in-chiefs of some 28 media organs nationwide.
Etienne Tasse, Coordinator of JADE in his opening remarks praised the engagement of various actors (journalists, policemen, administrative authorities, lawyers, magistrates, and civil society organizations) who have shown interest in this project for the past 42 months. He said through this project, journalists have built a strong cooperative spirit with police officials and lawyers.
The Coordinator of JADE also saluted the achievements made during the project that led to the creation of a network of media engaged in the promotion of Human Rights.
Mr. Tasse Etienne described the just-ended project as which helps in bridging the gaps in Human Rights coverage.
However, he acknowledged the fact that several challenges are still to be braced up. He cited access to sources of information which remains a mammoth challenge for journalists.
He said: “We have noticed during this project that journalists who are based in the North-West, South-West and North regions face a lot of difficulties in accessing administrative authorities contrary to other regions where officials are open for discussions. Also, we noticed that officials who took part in our informative and capacity-building workshops are open and are lenient with journalists…”
As concerns the next steps, the Coordinator of JADE said they will not fold their arms but will keep the same flame.
“We will continue to work on Human Rights issues and we will keep producing articles and documents”. Etienne Tasse narrated.
Louis Le Meter, pioneer, and veteran journalist, one of the key figures in this project through his association known as “Caractères Sans Frontières” delivered a word of thanks to all media men and actors who embarked on this journey.
In his intervention via Zoom, Louis Le Meter said issues remain uncovered and untold in Cameroon, he wished for a free press and more open in the course of her duties.
The veteran journalist said the project permitted him to have an in-depth exchange with some journalists, mostly those of the print with whom he liaised from time to time.
He decried the fact that many female journalists were not active in the project and regretted the brutal killings of media actors such as Martinez Zogo and Jacques Ola Bebey.
Journalists as key actors
Andrew Nsoseka, one of the journalists who actively took part in the project said the initiative was insightful and timely.
The young journalist based in Buea, South-West region of the country and who writes for The Post Newspaper has produced a series of articles to spotlight human rights abuses of some persons.
“Before this project, I had little knowledge of Human Rights issues and Human Rights reporting because I was doing very little of that in my newsroom. But now, I can say I have it at my fingertips. It is easy for me to spot when a right is abused and I can denounce it through my write-ups.” He said.
As a journalist working in a hostile environment that is crippled by the crisis for the past 5 years now, Andrew Nsoseka has learned through the project monitored by JADE to relay human rights violations with a lot of tact. He acted at times as a disguised journalist to grab information that would be reliable for his articles.
He added: “One of the main challenges has been with those violating human rights who take you as an enemy when you contact them for more information.”
Another journalist who has been very active and prolific in this project is Prince Nguimbouss, working with “Le Jour” newspaper in Yaounde.
He hopes the project will be relaunched next year because several issues are left uncovered.
Prince Nguimbouss lauded the efforts of JADE and its partners who have used means to collaborate with publishers and Heads of media organs but said some incentives should be analyzed for the effective participation of newspaper publishers in such nation-building projects.
At the end of the workshop, the Managing Editor of the Post Newspaper, Adams Bouddih praised the come together, and as a Human Rights defender, he said such initiatives should be multiplied.
“As a Human rights defender I would like to appreciate this project but journalists cannot work in a vacuum they have to collaborate with other stakeholders. This workshop was worthwhile but we pray that sessions of this type should be organized more often for people to be reminded of what to do…” Adams Bouddih said.
A short film produced by JADE was projected during the workshop with the objective of highlighting the fruitful impacts that can be raised through the collaboration built between policemen and journalists.
Participants at this one-day session also ended up with some key recommendations after working in groups on the theme: “Promoting Human Rights through a synergy of actions between journalists and other actors”.