MRA Confers NABTEB with FOI ‘Hall of Shame’ Award for Violating Its Obligations under FOI Act

Professor Ifeoma Mercy Isiugo-Abanihe, Registrar and Chief Executive, National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB)
Professor Ifeoma Mercy Isiugo-Abanihe, Registrar and Chief Executive, National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB)

Lagos, Monday, April 30, 2018: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today named the National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) as this week’s recipient of the “Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame” award, accusing it of consistently violating its obligations under the FOI Act.

In a statement in Lagos, MRA’s Legal Officer, Ms. Morisola Alaba, said NABTEB has failed to comply with most of its obligations under the FOI Act while also denying citizens the right to obtain information from it.

The National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) was established in 1993 as an examination body that oversees the conduct of examinations leading to the award of National Business Certificate (NBC); National Technical Certificate (NTC); Advanced National Business Certificate (ANBC) and Advanced National Technical Certificate (ANTC).

It also conducts entrance examinations into Technical Colleges and Allied Institutions; monitors, collects and keeps records of assessment in Technical Colleges and Allied Institutions towards the award of certificates in National Business and Technical Examinations as well as conduct research, publish statistics and other information in order to develop appropriate examinations, tests and syllabi in Technical and Business Studies.

In addition, NABTEB conducts other specified examinations on behalf of or in collaboration with other examination bodies or agencies such as the London Chamber of Commerce or the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, among others.

Highlighting the failings of NABTEB, Ms Alaba noted that although little known, the institution plays a vital role in the educational development of Nigeria, and should be seen as law abiding, transparent and accountable rather being opaque in its operations.

According to her, the institution’s lack of transparency is bound to result in a lack of trust in it, its operations and certificates among candidates sitting for examinations, their parents, other stakeholders and possibly, the entire country.

Ms Alaba cited the 2017 Annual Report on the Implementation of the FOI Act, submitted to the National Assembly on March 27, 2018 by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) which shows that NABTEB failed to submit its annual FOI implementation report, making it the seventh year in a row that the institution has failed to comply with this obligation since the Act was enacted.

She noted that NABTEB’s failure to submit its annual FOI implementation reports makes it totally impossible to determine the number of applications for access to information that it has received for each year since 2011 and the number of such applications that it processed and granted for any particular year or overall.

However, Ms Alaba said information published by the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), an Abuja-based non-governmental organisation, indicates that NABTEB has not been responsive to requests for information.

For instance, she noted, NABTEB did not respond to a request for information dated January 21, 2016, made by PPDC under the FOI Act in which the organisation asked for the records of payments released for capital projects in 2015 and although PPDC sent a reminder about the request to NABTEB on April 12, 2016, there has been no response till date.

She recalled that NABTEB also failed to respond to an FOI request made to it on August 10, 2016, also by PPDC, which asked for the list of contracts awarded by the institution in the year 2015 and the procurement plan for the year 2016.

Ms Alaba said NABTEB also refused to respond to another application for information made on February 2, 2017 by PPDC, requesting records of capital projects released to NABTEB in the year 2016; the list of contracts awarded by the National Business and Technical Examination Board in the year 2016 and the procurement plan within its approval threshold for the year 2017.

She affirmed that since the requested information did not fall under any of the exemptions in the Act, it can be deduced that the only logical reason why the institution refused to provide the information or respond to the request is its total disregard for the FOI Act and other laws of Nigeria, adding that “the information should ordinarily have been proactively published both under the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Section 2 of the FOI Act”.

In the same vein, Ms Alaba said, in the PPDC 2017 FOI compliance ranking of 166 public institutions published on September 28, 2017, NABTEB ranked amongst the worst performing set of institutions.

The ranking was based on an assessment of the level of public access to procurement related information. Specifically, as part of the exercise, information on procurement plans, procurement processes and capital expenditure were sought. The level of proactive disclosure, responsiveness to requests for information and the level of information disclosed by public institutions were determined by PPDC.

Ms Alaba said the Federal Attorney-General’s 2017 Annual Report on the Implementation of the FOI Act also shows that NABTEB failed to comply with Section 2(3)(f) of the FOI Act, which mandates every public institution to designate an appropriate officer to whom applications for information from members of the public should be sent and to publish the title and address of such an officer.

She criticised NABTEB for its lackadaisical attitude towards the implementation of the FOI Act, expressing concern over the obvious disregard by the institution of Section 13 of the Act which requires every public institution to ensure the provision of appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information and for the effective implementation of the Act.

MRA called on the management of NABTEB to take necessary measures to redeem the image of the institution and elevate it to a stage where it can become a globally recognized assessment and certification body preparing candidates for the world of work and academic/professional excellence as stated in its vision by ensuring that it complies with all its obligations under the FOI Act and the Guidelines on the Implementation of the Act issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation.

It also urged relevant committees of the National Assembly to wake up to their responsibility of ensuring the effective implementation of the Act by ensuring that NABTEB and other institutions covered by the Act, fully implement all their obligations under the Law.

Launched in July 2017, the FOI Hall of Shame shines the spotlight on public officials and institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act through their actions, inactions, utterances and decisions.

For further information, please contact:

Ridwan Sulaimon
Programme Manager, Freedom of Information
Media Rights Agenda, Lagos
E-mail:sulaimon@mediarightsagenda.org

MRA Inducts Nigerian Prisons Service into ‘FOI Hall of Shame’

Mr. Ja''afaru Ahmed
Mr. Ja”afaru Ahmed, Comptroller-General (CG) of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS)

Lagos, Monday, April 23, 2018: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today inducted the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) into its Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame for its lack of transparency about its operations and activities, evidenced by its blatant disregard of the FOI Act.

In a statement in Lagos, MRA’s Director of Programmes, Mr. Ayode Longe, noted that “since the coming into force of the FOI Act in 2011, the Nigerian Prisons Service has not submitted a single annual report on its implementation of the Act, as required by section 29 of the Act as well as the Guidelines for the Implementation of the FOI Act, issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation pursuant to his powers under the Act.”

According to him, there is no information available anywhere on the institution’s handling of requests for information made to it by members of the public, pursuant to the FOI Act, making it difficult to determine the extent of the Nigerian Prisons Service’s responsiveness to requests for information made to it by members of the public.

Mr. Longe said: “By February 1, this year, the Nigerian Prisons Service should have submitted a total of seven annual reports to the Attorney-General of the Federation on its implementation of the FOI Act. But records obtained from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation show that it has not submitted a single report during this period, a clear violation of its statutory obligations under the Act. As a direct result of the institution’s failure to submit its annual reports, we cannot ascertain the number of applications for information that it received and the number that it has processed or granted in the last seven years.”

He accused the Nigerian Prisons Service of failing to list the classes of records under its control in sufficient detail to facilitate the exercise of the right to information under the Act as well as the manuals used by its employees in administering or carrying out any of the programmes or activities of the institution as part of its proactive publications obligations under Section 2(3)(b) of the Act.

Mr. Longe observed that the institution has also not proactively disclosed documents in its custody, containing factual reports, inspection reports, and studies whether prepared by or for the institution as well as a description of documents containing final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as required by section 2 of the Act.

In addition, he said, the Nigerian Prisons Service, has failed to proactively disclose any information regarding the names, salaries, titles and dates of employment of all employees and officers of the institution, thereby violating section 2(3) (d)(vi) of the FOI Act.

According to him, the Nigerian Prisons Service also contravened section 2 (3) (d)(i) and (e)(iii) of the Act as it failed to proactively disclose any information relating to the receipt and expenditure of public or other funds of the institution as well as information containing applications for any contracts made by it or between it and another public institution or private organization.

Mr. Longe criticised the Nigerian Prisons Service for not providing appropriate training for its officials to enhance their implementation of the Act and their appreciation of the public’s right of access to information in their custody, thereby violating section 13 of the Act.

He said there was no indication on the institution’s website or anywhere else showing that it has designated an appropriate officer to whom applications for information should be sent, indicating that the Nigerian Prisons Service is also in violation of Section 2(3)(f) of the Act, adding that even the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the oversight body for the implementation of the FOI Act, which maintains a database of such FOI Desk Officers of public institutions, has no record of compliance by the institution.

Launched by MRA in July 2017, the “FOI Hall of Shame” highlights public officials and institutions that are undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act through their actions, inactions, utterances, and decisions.

For further information, please contact:

Ridwan Sulaimon
Programme Manager, Freedom of Information
Media Rights Agenda, Lagos
E-mail: sulaimon@mediarightsagenda.org

National Directorate of Employment Bags ‘FOI Hall of Shame’ Award, Cited for Persistent Violation of FOI Act with Impunity

Senator (DR.) Chris Nwabueze Ngige Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Federal Republic of Nigeria
Senator (DR.) Chris Nwabueze Ngige
Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment,         Federal Republic of Nigeria

Lagos, Monday, April 16, 2018: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today declared the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) the latest inductee into the “Freedom of Information (FOI) Hall of Shame”, citing the agency’s persistent violations of the FOI Act with impunity.

The FOI Hall of Shame is an initiative of MRA, launched in July 2017, to shine the spotlight on public institutions or officials that are undermining the effectiveness of the FOI Act. MRA said the NDE was “conferred with the Award” for gross and repeated breaches of all its duties and obligations under the Law as well as the general lack of transparency in an agency whose function is of critical importance to the nation’s economy.

MRA’s FOI Programme Manager, Mr Ridwan Sulaimon, announced the induction of the agency in a statement in Lagos, saying: “the NDE was assessed on five broad categories based on the obligations of public institutions under the FOI Act, including the submission of annual implementation reports, proactive publication of relevant information, training of the institution’s staff on the public’s right of access to information, designation and publication of contact details of the institution’s FOI Desk Officer as well as responsiveness to requests for information from members of the public pursuant to the FOI Act.”

According to Mr. Sulaimon, the NDE failed woefully in all the indicators as it appeared to have completely abdicated all its responsibilities under the Act.

Mr. Sulaimon noted that between 2011, when the FOI Act was enacted, and February 1, this year, the NDE ought to have submitted seven annual reports to the Attorney-General of the Federation on its implementation of the Act, adding that MRA was astonished that the agency has not submitted a single report over the period, thereby repeatedly breaching the provisions of Section 29 of the Act with impunity.

Besides, he said, the NDE has not fulfilled its proactive disclosure obligations under Section 2 of the Act as it has not published either on any of its two websites or under its section in the website of its parent ministry, the Ministry of Labour, or anywhere else, the 16 categories of information that it is required by the FOI Act to publish and disseminate widely to members of the public through various means, including print, electronic and online sources.

Mr. Sulaimon explained that Section 13 of the FOI Act requires every government or public institution to ensure the provision of appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right of access to information and records held by the government or public institution for the effective implementation of the Act, saying that the NDE has refused to comply with this provision despite the fact that the Law has now been in existence for about seven years.

He said the Database of FOI Desk Officers available at the Federal Ministry of Justice, the oversight institution for the implementation of the FOI Act, indicates that the NDE has also not designated any official to whom requests for information should be made and has not published the name of any such official as required by Section 2(3)(f) of the Act. This is despite repeated requests and reminders issued by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to all public institutions to immediately designate such officials and send their details to the Office for inclusion in the Database.

Mr. Sulaimon noted that there is no indication that the NDE has ever granted any request for information, attributing the problem ascertaining this to the Agency’s failure to submit its annual report to the Attorney-General of the Federation, which would have provided the requisite information about a series of facts and figures relevant to the implementation of the Act by the NDE.

He said: “Valuable statistical data and information are lost or rendered unavailable as a result of the failure of the NDE to submit its annual implementation reports to the Attorney-General of the Federation as we are unable to determine the number of applications for information that it received and number of such applications that it processed. We also do not know how many requests for information the NDE has granted or denied over the years. All of these information are critically important for planning and have implications for efficiency in government.”

According to him, “we are, however, aware of a case where the Public and Private Development Centre, a non-governmental organization based in Abuja, made a request to the NDE on February 4, 2015 and it took nine days for the agency to respond to the request, and even so, it failed to disclose the requested information.”

Mr Sulaimon said the critical importance of the NDE to the Nigerian economy, especially in the light of the ravaging levels of unemployment in the country, makes its lack of transparency and general failure to comply with its duties and obligations under the FOI Act, unacceptable and a matter of grave concern.

He observed that “The institution which was established by an Act of the National Assembly, among other things, to design and implement programmes to combat mass unemployment and which has a duty to maintain a Data Bank on employment and vacancies in the country with a view to acting as a clearing house to link job seekers with vacancies in collaboration with other government agencies should not need any persuasion to comply with a law such as the FOI Act that will make its work easy.”

MRA therefore called on the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, to urgently call the NDE to order and ensure that the agency complies with its duties and obligations under the FOI Act.

The organization also urged members of the public to use the FOI Act to demand information from public institutions in different sectors with a view to ensuring that the law is effectively implemented and that they are able to participate in the governance of their country.

For further information, please contact:

Ridwan Sulaimon
Programme Manager, Freedom of Information
Media Rights Agenda, Lagos
E-mail: sulaimon@mediarightsagenda.org

IPI, IMS, Accepting Nominations for 2018 Hero and Pioneer Awards

IPI-banner for World Press Freedom Hero Award
IPI-banner for World Press Freedom Hero Award

The International Press Institute (IPI) and International Media Support (IMS) are now accepting nominations for the 2018 IPI World Press Freedom Hero Award and the 2018 IPI-IMS Free Media Pioneer Award. The deadline for nominations is April 20, 2018.

The IPI World Press Freedom Hero Award, initiated in 2000 to mark IPI’s 50th anniversary, honours journalists who have made significant contributions to the promotion of press freedom, particularly in the face of great personal risk.

In 2017, IPI and IMS conferred the honour on Ethiopian journalist and blogger, Eskinder Nega, who spent nearly six years in prison after criticizing his country’s abuse of anti-terror laws to silence the press. Nega was freed earlier this year before being briefly detained again for allegedly violating the provisions of Ethiopia’s ongoing state of emergency.

Nominations for the award should focus on individuals who have fought for improvements in their respective press freedom environment, particularly in the face of legal, financial, physical or other forms of hardship; or individuals who have worked despite all obstacles to seek out and disseminate information that impacts the lives of their fellow citizens or the global community.

The annual Free Media Pioneer Award was established by IPI in 1996 to recognize news or media organizations that have made innovations that have promoted news access or quality, or benefitted journalists and the media community, thereby ensuring freer and more independent media in their country or region.

Last year’s award was given to the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee in recognition of the group’s courageous and trailblazing work to prevent, combat and monitor attacks on journalists in one of the world’s most dangerous media environments.

Recent honourees have included Turkish broadcasting platform, Medyascope, the Mexican press rights group, Periodistas de a Pie, and the news organization, Al-Monitor.

In line with the theme of this year’s World Congress, IPI and IMS encourage nominations of quality media outlets that, through innovative projects and approaches to reporting, have brought positive changes to their societies and communities.

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Nominations should be sent via email to cklint@ipi.media. Both awards will be presented at a special ceremony and gala dinner during IPI’s 2018 World Congress in Abuja, Nigeria in June.

AGF Commends MRA for ‘Constant Efforts’ to Improve Implementation of FOI Act

Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA)

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubabakar Malami (SAN), has commended Media Rights Agenda (MRA) for its “constant efforts in the improved and sustainable implementation of the FOI (Freedom of Information) Act.”

In a letter dated April 5, 2018, written in response to MRA’s FOI request and signed on behalf of the AGF, Mr Ichibor Gowon Joseph, an Assistant Director at the Federal Ministry of Justice’s FOI Unit, expressed the AGF’s compliments to MRA for its work in seeking to ensure that the Act is effectively implemented.

Commenting on the letter, MRA’s Executive Director, Mr Edetaen Ojo, said that the issue of access to information, particularly the effective implementation of the FOI Act, is at the core of MRA’s work, adding that he was pleased that the AGF had recognized the organization’s efforts.

Mr Ojo said: “Citizens’ access to government-held information is an issue we are passionate about as an organisation, and the fundamental tool to guarantee that access is the Freedom of Information Act. Therefore we have and will continue to spare no efforts in ensuring its effective implementation.”

Deputy Editor Petitions IGP over Threat to his Life

Mr. Wale Odunsi, the Deputy Editor of Daily Post
Mr. Wale Odunsi, the Deputy Editor of Daily Post

Mr. Wale Odunsi, the Deputy Editor of Daily Post online on April 9, 2018 petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, over alleged threat to his life by Mr. Edward Onoja, the Chief of Staff to Mr. Yahaya Bello, Governor of Kogi State.

Wale claimed that Edward threatened to kill him.

Narrating his encounter, the journalist said he received a phone call from Edward on April 8 at 10:39 am wherein he complained about a story by the medium about him which he claimed was false.

Wale said he advised Edward to make a formal complaint to the medium an advice which he dismissed claiming the story was a hatchet job, an allegation to which the journalist said he responded to by reminding him that at least two other media houses – including The Punch and Guardian Newspapers – published similar story.

The journalists said further: “Mr Onoja continued to speak in harsh tones and told me point blank that he would order (a) hit on me. I asked if he was threatening me and he said ‘Yes, mark my words. I will kill you’.”

“He went on to say ‘Anywhere I see you, I will tear you apart’. These are weighty statements which any reasonable person must not take lightly.”

The journalist therefore urged the IGP to investigate the threat before his life is cut short.

Civil Society Coalition Calls on States to Promote Use of Strong Encryption

António Guterres, UN Secretary General
António Guterres, UN Secretary General

A coalition of civil society organizations have called on member states of the United Nations to promote the use of strong encryption in relevant policies and statements such as national cybersecurity strategies and policies, or through public statements in order to meet their obligation to ensure that the right to privacy is fulfilled in practice.

The civil society organizations also urged states to support better digital literacy at all levels and for all age groups in their countries, with a particular focus on the vulnerable and marginalized, and ensure that education on security measures is provided or available to individuals, including on how to take effective measures to protect the confidentiality, integrity and security of their communication.

They also advocated that states support the development, use and adoption of open source encryption software, through financial support or supporting the regular and independent maintenance and auditing of such software for vulnerabilities.

The recommendations are among those contained in the joint submissions by the organizations in response to a call by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights call for input to a report on the right to privacy in the digital age.

The organizations are Bytes for All in Pakistan; Coding Rights in Brazil; Derechos Digitales in Chile; Global Partners Digital (GPD) in the United Kingdom; the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANET) in Kenya; ICT Watch in Indonesia; Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in Nigeria; the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in Ghana; and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) in Malaysia.

In their 6-page joint submission, the organizations said although there are a wide range of issues which fall within the scope of privacy in the digital age, their submission focuses specifically on the privacy and security of personal information and communications, notably via encryption.

According to them, “Encryption plays a critical role in enabling privacy and other human rights, particularly freedom of expression, in a range of different countries and contexts. We have seen policies and proposals put forward by different governments around the world that would restrict the availability and utility use of strong encryption, undermining – and potentially eliminating – the opportunities that encryption provides for the protection and enjoyment of human rights including, for example vulnerable and marginalised groups.”

The organizations said “considering the growing reliance on data-driven technology, biometric data and other technologies such as the ‘Internet of Things’ or connected devices, we consider that it is increasingly crucial to support and recognise the role of strong encryption in helping promote and protect the right to privacy, along with the security of systems, devices and networks.”

They therefore set out their “understanding of the obligations of states on the issue of Encryption”, and highlighted examples of concerns as well as good practice, which they proposed should be reflected in the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Please click CS_Response_on_right_to_privacy_in_the_digital_age_OHCHR_submission to download or access the full text of the Joint Submission

Nigeria, Argentina, Romania, France Elected to the OGP Steering Committee

Mukaleni Dimba, Co-Chair, OGP Steering Committee
Mukaleni Dimba, Co-Chair, OGP Steering Committee

Following a Steering Committee government elections in the first quarter of 2018, the governments of Nigeria and Argentina were elected alongside those of Romania and France, which were re-elected to lead the Open Government Partnership (OGP), for a three-year term, beginning from October 1, 2018.

The OGP is a global initiative which brings together government and civil society leaders to co-create and co-implement action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable to citizens.

The Steering Committee government elections took place as the terms of Chile, France, Indonesia, and Romania ended. Comprised of 22 members – 11 from government and 11 from civil society – the Steering Committee is the executive, decision-making body of OGP saddled with the responsibility to develop, promote and safeguard the values, principles and interests of OGP.

In a statement issued in Washington on December 3, 2017, OGP CEO Sanjay Pradhan enthusiastically welcomed the election of the new Steering Committee governments. “We are delighted at the election of Argentina and Nigeria and the re-election of France and Romania to the OGP Steering Committee and congratulate them on being elected to this important global leadership body.”

“Given dramatic changes in our geopolitical context, our Steering Committee represents a new coalition of global leaders standing up for openness and democracy,” Pradhan added.

Minister for Justice and Attorney-General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who is also a Co-Chair of the OGP Nigeria, Mr Abubakar Malami, stated that the government is grateful for the opportunity and is determined to advance the open government agenda.

Mr Malami said: “The government of Nigeria is excited at the opportunity to serve as a member of the OGP Steering Committee. Nigeria is committed to improving anti-corruption measures on asset recovery and the establishment of beneficial ownership register as well as citizen engagement through the use of technology. We look forward to working with other countries, particularly in Africa, to further the OGP principles.”

Also, the Minister of Modernization in Argentina, Andrés Ibarra, highlighted the importance of institutions like OGP to hold governments accountable and to better connect them with civil society and other citizens. He added, “This is an important acknowledgment to Argentina as a country and to the commitment and work done jointly by the National and Provincial Government, the civil society, the legislative and the judicial branches. As part of the Committee, we will actively foster ambitious reforms working together with the community, raising the impact of our work.”

The Secretary of State in charge of Digital Affairs from France, Mounir Mahjoubi, thanked OGP participants for the opportunity to renew its mandate in the Steering Committee and is determined to continue working and supporting the OGP community. Mahjoubi said, “We are convinced that it is only with Open Government Partnership that we will be able to lay the groundwork to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by digital technology and, thus, to meet the challenges it represents for our democracies. The important hope for more transparency and openness that the Partnership has provided requires that we put all our energy into sustaining its action, and that we contribute collectively to its development.”

In a statement, the government of Romania also said that it looks forward to joining the Steering Committee for a second term and is  committed to continuing to champion open government during their its mandate. “On behalf of the Government of Romania, we welcome the news of our re-election for a second mandate in the OGP Steering Committee and look forward to continue our work in this position by playing an active role in promoting and upholding OGP values globally and contributing to shaping the Partnership’s future.”

           

Entries Open for 2018 Senior Journalists Seminar

Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali, Chair & Presiden, Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute
Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali, Chair & Presiden, Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute

Entries are now open to senior print, broadcast and online journalists from the United State and countries with substantial Muslim populations for the 2018 Senior Journalists Seminar (2018SJS).

The Senior Journalists Seminar, launched in 2003, is an immersive dialogue, study, and travel programme intended to enhance media coverage and elevate the public debate regarding identity and religion’s role in and resulting impact on the public sphere, specifically as it concerns U.S. relations with Muslim majority regions.

The 2018SJS will bring together 12 to 16 international journalists for an immersive 21-day dialogue, study, and travel program to the US cities of Washington DC; Detroit and Honolulu, as well as to Yangon in Myanmar and Tunis in Tunisia.

The seminar offers an opportunity for journalists to engage their peers, experts, and the citizens of the countries visited on issues that are thematically relevant  including:  the cultural identity, treatment, and representation of religious groups, specifically Muslims; the religiosity, religious diversity, and religious freedom/rights; the political context, structures, and policy influencers that shape domestic and foreign policymaking; the  impact of religious and cultural identity on the national and political identity of citizens; and initiatives to reduce religious tensions and domestic extremism.

The 2018SJS will begin in Washington, DC with an overview of the American political system, including the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, federalism, the separation of powers, and congressional influencers on foreign policymaking. Other foundational sessions will examine the religious make-up, diversity of religious identity, and the prayer and attendance practices of the American public.

Journalists will engage on issues ranging from politics and religion throughout the study tour, meetings with government officials and academics in all the countries visited will explore domestic and international counter-terrorism efforts and opportunities for cooperation.

The 2018SJS will be funded by the East-West Center (EWC), Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute and supports the participation of 12-16 journalists from the United States and countries with substantial Muslim populations, as defined below. Valued at approximately USD$10,685 per person.

Funding will include Round-trip airfare to and from your home country and throughout the study tour; ground transportation and airport transfers; lodging in each of the study tour destinations; provided program meals and a modest per diem to cover meals not provided; cultural activities and networking opportunities; interpretation in-country, when necessary; pro-rated speaker honorariums, cooperating organization costs and meeting rooms; Participant Resource Binder and seminar flash drive of program documents, speaker PowerPoint presentations and photos.

All participants are responsible for the Senior Journalists Seminar fee of USD$800.00, visa fees, health insurance and airline baggage charges. EWC encourages additional participant cost-sharing of programmatic costs and considers cost-sharing in the selection of applicants.

Media professionals from print, broadcast, online, and multi-media news organizations, including editors, reporters, columnists, editorial writers, producers, bloggers, videographers, and photo journalists with a minimum of ten years of experience are eligible to apply.

The Seminar is open to journalists covering relevant beats from the following countries:  Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Burma, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and the United States.

In addition to the list of countries above, journalists who specifically cover art and/or culture, including race and/or minority issues, from the following countries are also eligible to apply:  Algeria, Belgium, Canada, Chad, Cyprus, England, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Mali, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, and Yemen.

The EWC requires journalists to file at least one story or a series of blogs and/or tweets resulting from their participation in the seminar. Journalists must offer specific story ideas and how they would fulfill this requirement in their application.

Interested applicants should fill out the Senior Journalists application form and also provide all of the following:

  • Letter of Interest (maximum two pages, double-spaced) including: A brief description of your news organization, its reach, and your role; interest in seminar theme and its relevancy to the beat you cover; what you expect both to contribute and to gain from participating in the seminar; possible story ideas and how the story requirement will be met in terms of dissemination.
  • Resume (maximum two pages)
  • Two professional letters of recommendation, including one from your immediate supervisor describing your suitability for the program and how the news organization hopes to benefit from your participation. Recommendation letters should be signed and on letterhead.

Extra pages submitted over the maximum limits, will NOT be copied for and read by the Selection Committee. Late applications will also not be considered.

For inquiries about the application process, please call Sara Lam at: 808-944-7727

NOTE: Please indicate “Senior Journalists Application” in the subject heading of your e-mail or fax. Receipt of the application will be confirmed within 5 working days. If you do not hear back, please follow up.

Completed applications are to be submitted by Wednesday, April 18, 2018, via Email: sjs@eastwestcenter.org  or Fax: 808-944-7600.

Media in Conflicts Seminar Seeks Applications for Annual Training

Prof. Boaz Ganor is the Dean and the Ronald Lauder Chair for Counter-Terrorism at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy & Strategy,
Prof. Boaz Ganor, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy & Strategy

The Media in Conflicts Seminar (MICS) for 2018, scheduled to take place in Herzliya, Israel, is now accepting applications from prospective participants from countries around the world

The seminar is designated for media personnel who are involved in the fields of conflict coverage and journalism, and are between the ages 21-35.

MICS will expose future media leaders to the fascinating world of conflict journalism. During the seminar, participants will develop reporting skills to deal with the challenges of media in conflicts, create a priceless professional network and experience one of the most covered conflict zones in the world.

The training will pool together top experts in the fields of conflict journalism, terrorism, defense and security from Middle East and internationally.

The 5-day training will hold from August 26-30, 2018 at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya. Participants will be offered fully funded accommodation, transportation (excluding airfare) and meals during the period of the seminar.

The training is organized by The Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy in Israel.

For more information, Click: https://www.mics.org.il/