Security Officials Assault Newspaper Correspondent

Mr Adebayo Waheed being manhandled by NSCDC officials
Mr Adebayo Waheed being manhandled by NSCDC officials

On January 24, 2014, in the premises of S.S Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Bodija in Ibadan, south western Nigeria, officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) assaulted Mr. Adebayo Waheed, the Oyo State correspondent of “Leadership” newspaper.

Waheed had gone to cover the installation of the new Archbishop of Ibadan Archdiocese, Most Reverend Gabriel Abegunrin.  He was beaten up by the NSCDC officials who also tore his shirt.

Mr. Adebayo Waheed with his shirt torn by NSCDC officials
Mr. Adebayo Waheed with his shirt torn by NSCDC officials

Journalists, including Waheed were accredited to cover the ceremony but officials of the NSCDC denied them the right to carry out their work freely.

One of the NSCDC officials identified as A. J. Anjorin, threatened to seize and vandalise the journalists’ equipment should they go beyond a point from the podium.

When the retiring Bishop Alaba Job was handing over the Staff of Office to his successor, the journalists moved forward and took position to capture the moment but one of the NSCDC officials attacked them and particularly singled out Mr. Waheed whom they beat up and tore his shirt.

Gunmen Shoot News Agency Photojournalist

On January 13, 2014, at about 10.30PM local time, Mr. Callistus Ewelike, a photojournalist with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), was shot in front of his house at Nyanya area of Abuja. He had just returned from covering the commissioning of a power project by President Goodluck Jonathan in Shape, Abuja and was alighting from his vehicle.

Ewelike was thereafter immediately taken to a nearby hospital by his neighbours and later transferred to the National Hospital in Abuja for surgery.

Ewelike who is assigned to the Presidency as President Goodluck Jonathan’s media photographer, was reportedly confronted in front of his house by two men on motor bike. One of them later shot, after which both men sped off in their motorbike after the gunshot attracted neighbours.

No item was taken from him.

The Nigeria Police have launched an investigation into the incident with an order for the manhunt and arrest of the assailants.

This is the second time that the journalist would be attacked by gunmen: late last year, some gunmen broke into his residence and took away his work tools, including a camera, a laptop and a few other personal items.

Deutsche Welle International Media Studies Master’s Program Calls for Applications

Deutsche Welle (DW) International Media Studies Master’s Program has announced a call for applications to its 2014/2015 winter semester course.

The Master’s Program is a four-semester, full-time program with a bilingual curriculum that’s  combines the disciplines media and development, journalism, communications and media management.

This is a joint project together with the University of Bonn, the Bonn Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences and Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster with headquarters in Bonn.

This program is conducted in German and English and is designed for young students from developing and transition countries who have previous media experience. The program offers an unparalleled mix of research, lectures and practical experience and prepares students for careers in the communications and media industries.

The Deutsche Welle (DW) International Media Studies Master’s Program trains students to be competent journalists and prepares them for a challenging role as expert or manager in the media sector. Students will acquire the knowledge and skills that are essential for a journalistic career.

Interested students should have all documents required for application ready:
• (signed) Letter of motivation
• (signed) Curriculum vitae in table form
• Certificate of your first academic degree including transcripts and translation of both documents into either German or English
• Evidence of at least one year’s professional experience in a media-related field after obtaining your first academic degree (for a full scholarship you must give evidence for at least one additional year of professional experience)
• Certificate of APS (for applicants who completed their first degree in China, Vietnam or Mongolia)
• Evidence of sufficient English language skills (TOEFL IBT: score of 83 or higher, IELTS: score of 6.0 or higher, BULATS: score of 70 or higher, LCCI: level 3) – English language certificates are valid for two years from the date of issue
• Evidence of sufficient German language skills (TestDaF at least level TDN 3 in all four parts of the examination, Goethe Zertifikat at least level B2 or DSH at least level 1)
• Copy of your passport

If you would like to apply for a full scholarship, you will be required to submit some additional documents:
• Recent recommendation letter from a University (signed with an official University stamp)
• Recent recommendation letter from your employer (signed with an official company stamp)
• DAAD application form (please find the link to the application form at the bottom of this page)
• High school diploma

Regarding the English and German language skills, please be aware that you will need to provide evidence of sufficient language skills for both languages. If you have knowledge of only one of the two languages, this does not suffice. If one of these languages is your native language or you have completed your entire program of study in either of them, evidence of that particular language is not necessary.

Applications are made online. Click here for further information.

Deadline for submission of applications is March 31, 2014.

After the application deadline has expired, a committee of representatives of the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, the University of Bonn, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Deutsche Welle will decide on the award of places. In case your application is approved (you will be informed by email) you will be required to send certified copies of your original application documents to our cooperation partner, the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg as soon as possible. Please note that all copies of documents you submit must be officially certified for authenticity with the originals.

World Press Institute Announces Fellowship for Journalists

Applications for the 2014 World Press Institute (WPI) Fellowship Program for journalists are now open. The 2014 fellowship will begin in mid-August, 2014 and end in mid-October, 2014.

The WPI fellowship is offered to 10 journalists from countries around the world. It provides immersion into the governance, politics, business, media, journalistic ethics and culture of the United States for experienced international journalists, through a demanding schedule of study, travel and interviews throughout the country.

Past Fellows

Fellows will spend three weeks in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and then travel to several U.S. cities, including New York and Washington, D.C., for briefings, interviews and visits. They will returned to Minnesota for the final week of the program.

WPI pays all program costs, including transportation to the U.S. and back, all transportation within the U.S. related to the WPI program, and all lodging costs. In addition, a modest daily per diem for food is provided.

Women are encouraged to apply as the institute is committed to achieving racial and gender equity in its selection of fellows, topics and persons interviewed.

Each year hundreds of journalists apply to the WPI program. Fellows are picked by the WPI selection committee, composed of journalists and corporate communications specialists, all with international experience. Successful Finalists for the fellowship will be announced in April 2014.

Eligible applicants should have at least five (5) years full-time employment in print, broadcast, or online journalism. WPI said, “Journalists can work for news or editorial departments of newspapers, wire services, radio, television, web sites, online publications or magazines of general public interest. Photojournalists, editorial cartoonists, columnists and broadcast producers are also eligible. Those who supervise journalists are eligible providing that they also have at least five years as a working journalist.”

Interested applicants must  be currently employed as a non U.S. journalist working outside of the United States and be fluent in both written and spoken English.

Deadline for applications is February 15, 2014. For more information on how to apply, click here.

The World Press Institute fosters understanding among international journalists about the role and responsibilities of a free press in a democracy and promotes excellence in journalism. Since 1961, over 500 journalists from 100 countries have benefited from the WPI experience.

Kontax Offers Journalists, Media Houses Free Online Publishing Platform

Kontax, a multilingual press release website available in 67 languages, last month launched an initiative in favour of global freedom of the press by allowing journalists and their media organizations to publish and distribute free of charge their articles and press releases in the language of their choice though Kontax.

Kontax accounts will have access to the free publication of news articles in unlimited numbers; free distribution of articles to 300 media contacts; titles of items relayed automatically to major social media; multilingual alerts by keyword, city, country, category and language and alerts in standardized formats (full release, plain text, full contact details of the author).

Other benefits include dashboard to manage alerts; multilingual search and archiving systems; customizable distribution lists; access to 490,000 media contacts and direct access to the services of 75,000 professional translators.

Kontax believes that freedom of the press is the most important right, because it protects all the others. This initiative will help to guarantee that freedom, by making it accessible to every journalist.

Publisher Calls for Submissions to a Festschrift to Celebrate the Life of Wole Soyinka

Ben Bosah Books, an independent press organisation, has issued a call for contributions for a festschrift to celebrate the life of Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka in academia, letters and social activism in a multi-media book.

Mr. Ben Bosha, Publisher Ben Bosha Books

The publishers said they are looking for entries that capture Prof. Soyinka’s multi-faceted life in images, essays on him and his writings, poems, short plays inspired by him and/or his work, music etc. According to the organizers, such music or dramatic performances will be recorded and enclosed in an attached CD and DVD that will come with the book.

Interested contributors should forward their submissions to reach the publishers by February 28, 2014. They plan to release the book just before Prof. Soyinka’s 80th birthday in July 2014.

Enquiries and submissions for the festschrift should be made to WS80@benbosahbooks.com.

UN General Assembly adopts Resolution on Journalists Safety, Proclaims November 2 as International Day to End Impunity

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at its 68th Session held on December 18, 2013, adopted a landmark Resolution on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in which it also proclaimed November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

The Resolution, co-sponsored by Greece, Argentina, Austria, Costa Rica, France, Nigeria and 72 other countries, calls upon States to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference.

It “condemns unequivocally all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, as well as intimidation and harassment in both conflict and non-conflict situations”. It is the first time the UNGA has adopted a resolution directly addressing the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity.

The Resolution, passed by consensus, proclaims November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.  The date coincides with the day when French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were killed by militants in Mali in 2013. It also falls within the three week period each year (November 1 to 23) that freedom of expression and media non-governmental organizations worldwide have been campaigning against impunity.

The Resolution calls on the UN Secretary General to report at its next session in 2014 on the progress being made by the UN system in regard to implementing the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

It also invites the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to be the overall coordinator of the implementation of UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, operating with focal points from Member States as well as relevant UN agencies, organizations, funds and programmes to exchange relevant information.

Civil society organizations around the world, including Media Rights Agenda (MRA), have welcomed the adoption of the resolution.

The global network of freedom of expression organizations, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), which has been leading an international campaign annually against impunity particularly welcomed the proclamation of 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity.

States are to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work, including by means of legislative measures; awareness-raising in the judiciary and among law enforcement officers and military personnel, as well as among journalists and in civil society, regarding international human rights and humanitarian law obligations and commitments relating to the safety of journalists; the monitoring and reporting of attacks against journalists; publicly condemning attacks; and dedicating the resources necessary to investigate and prosecute such attacks.

Click here for the full text of the UN General Assembly’s Resolution on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution on Right to Privacy in the Digital Age

Deeply concerned that electronic surveillance, interception of digital communications and collection of personal data may negatively impact human rights, the United Nations General Assembly on December 18, 2013 adopted a consensus resolution strongly backing the right to privacy, calling on all countries take measures to end activities that violate this fundamental “tenet of a democratic society.”

In a Resolution entitled “Right to privacy in the digital age,” the General Assembly stressed that the right to privacy is a human right and affirmed, for the first time, that the same rights people have offline must also be protected online.

It called on States to “respect and protect the right to privacy, including in the context of digital communication.”

Ms Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The measure, proposed by Brazil and Germany, was among the more than 65 texts recommended by the General Assembly’s Third Committee – the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural – on December 18 on a range of issues relating mainly to human rights, social development and crime prevention.

Noting that while concerns about public security may justify the gathering and protection of certain sensitive information, the Resolution states that governments must ensure full compliance with their obligations under international human rights law.

It calls on States to establish or maintain existing independent, effective domestic oversight capable of ensuring transparency, as appropriate, and accountability for surveillance and/or interception of communications and the collection of personal data.

The Resolution also requests the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, to submit a report on the protection and promotion of the right to privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance and/or interception of digital communications and the collection of personal data, including on a mass scale, to the UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, Switzerland, at its 27th session and to the General Assembly at its 69th session.

Earlier in the year, Ms. Pillay spotlighted the right to privacy, using the case of United States citizen Edward Snowden to illustrate the urgent need to protect individuals who reveal human rights violations.

“Snowden’s case has shown the need to protect persons disclosing information on matters that have implications for human rights, as well as the importance of ensuring respect for the right to privacy,” she said, adding that national legal systems must ensure avenues for individuals disclosing violations of human rights to express their concern without fear of reprisals.

According to Ms Pillay, “The right to privacy, the right to access to information and freedom of expression are closely linked. The public has the democratic right to take part in the public affairs and this right cannot be effectively exercised by solely relying on authorized information.”

Mr. Snowden is a former National Security Agency contractor in the US who has been charged with leaking details of several secret mass electronic surveillance programmes to the press. He fled the country after the news broke, and is currently in Russia.

Ms. Pillay had noted at the time that while concerns about national security and criminal activity may justify the exceptional and narrowly-tailored use of surveillance programmes, “surveillance without adequate safeguards to protect the right to privacy actually risk impacting negatively on the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

She also recalled that Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights state that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with one’s privacy, family, home or correspondence, and that everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

“People need to be confident that their private communications are not being unduly scrutinized by the State,” she said.

Click here for the full text of the UN General Assembly’s Resolution on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age.

Writers Around the World Launch Appeal Against Mass Surveillance

On December 10, 2013, the International Human Rights Day, 562 authors, including five Nobel Prize laureates, from over 80 countries joined together to launch an appeal in defense of civil liberties against surveillance by corporations and governments.

Mr. Orhan Pamuk

The five Nobel Prize Winners who signed the appeal are: Orhan Pamuk, J.M. Coetzee, Elfriede Jelinek, Günter Grass and Tomas Tranströmer.

The global petition was organized by an independent international group of authors, namely: Juli Zeh (Germany), Ilija Trojanow (Germany), Eva Menasse (Germany), Janne Teller (Germany), Priya Basil (United Kingdom), Isabel Cole (United States), and Josef Haslinger (Austria), who published the appeal in 30 news papers all around the world on December 10.

According to the writers, ”In recent months, the extent of mass surveillance has become common knowledge. With a few clicks of the mouse the state can access your mobile device, your e-mail, your social networking and Internet searches.  It can follow your political leanings and activities and, in partnership with Internet corporations, it collects and stores your data, and thus can predict your consumption and behaviour.”

They argued that “The basic pillar of democracy is the inviolable integrity of the individual. Human integrity extends beyond the physical body. In their thoughts and in their personal environments and communications, all humans have the right to remain unobserved and unmolested.”

Ms Elfriede Jelinek

The writers stressed that “This fundamental human right has been rendered null and void through abuse of technological developments by states and corporations for mass surveillance purposes.  A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy.  To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual as in real space.”

They noted that:

  • Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of thought and opinion.
  • Mass surveillance treats every citizen as a potential suspect. It overturns one of our historical triumphs, the presumption of innocence.
  • Surveillance makes the individual transparent, while the state and the corporation operate in secret. As we have seen, this power is being systemically abused.
  • Surveillance is theft. This data is not public property: it belongs to us. When it is used to predict our behaviour, we are robbed of something else: the principle of free will crucial to democratic liberty.

The writers demanded the right for all people to determine, as democratic citizens, to what extent their personal data may be legally collected, stored and processed, and by whom; to obtain information on where their data is stored and how it is being used; and to obtain the deletion of their data if it has been illegally collected and stored.

They also called on:

  • All States and corporations to respect these rights.
  • All citizens to stand up and defend these rights.
  • The United Nations to acknowledge the central importance of protecting civil rights in the digital age, and to create an International Bill of Digital Rights.
  • Governments to sign and adhere to such a convention.

 The writers, under the platform, Writers Against Mass Surveillance, are seeking signatures for the petition titled: “A Stand for Democracy in the Digital Age” on Change.org.  You can sign the petition online at: http://chn.ge/1cLrMaA

Senate Proposes 7 Year Jail-term for Incitement against Government on Social Media, Reverses Move

Details of a Bill, which imposes a seven-year jail-term for social media critics found guilty of inciting the public against the government were made public last month by the Senate, the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly.

The proposed law, which has already scaled the second reading in the Senate, also prescribes harsher punishment for internet fraudsters and scammers in Nigeria as anyone convicted of these offences will also face seven years in prison.

The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and the Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes held a joint one-day public hearing on the Bill on December 3, 2013.

Titled an Act to Provide for the Prohibition and Punishment for Electronic Fraud and Crime in all Electronic Transactions in Nigeria, Section 13(3) of the bill stipulates that that “Any person, who intentionally propagates false information that could threaten the security of the country or that is capable of inciting  the general public against the government through electronic message, shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction,  shall be sentenced to seven years imprisonment, or a fine of N5m or both”.

Senator Adegbenga Kaka

Declaring the public hearing open, the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, who was represented by the Deputy Minority Whip in the Senate, Senator Abu Ibrahim, noted that electronic fraudsters pose a great danger to the country which must be tackled to attract foreign investment.

The Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Umaru Dahiru, also observed that electronic fraud was posing serious threats to world economies and Nigeria being a developing economy should enact appropriate laws to deal with the challenges.

However, the Bill was greeted with widespread condemnation on social media and mainstream media. A week later, it appeared that the Senate had bowed to public pressure.

The sponsor of the bill, Senator Adegbenga Kaka, and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, announced to journalists in Abuja on December 10, 2013 that the controversial section of the Bill had been deleted from the Bill.

According to Senator Kaka, “The bill that I presented to the Senate, precisely on July 28,  2011, was a Bill to regulate the electronic transfer of funds and after presentation, by the time we got to the second reading, there was a remark that a similar Bill was tabled before the Sixth Senate by Senator Ayo Arise. I was then asked to go and rework my own and marry it with that of Senator Arise. In the course of doing it, a Bill for an Act for the prohibition of all electronic transfer, all electronic transaction fraud and electronic transfer transactions in Nigeria and other related matters was presented.  It passed through the first reading, and the second reading and last week, there was a public hearing by the joint committee on judiciary and narcotics.

Senator Kaka noted that following the public hearing, social media practitioners took exceptions to the provisions of section 13 (3) and based on that, he promised  to carry out some consultations because the bill as it is presently, “is no longer my property,  it is that of the Senate.”

He went on to explain that during the consultations, it was agreed that section 13 (3) of the proposed Law could be abused at any point in time and could be misinterpreted and “As a result, I have the permission of the Senate leadership to announce to the world that that the section 13 (3) shall be deleted.”