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Training Essential In Human Rights Protection 

By Leocadia Bongben

Resource persons and participants at a recent two-day seminar on Human Rights and Press Freedom, agreed that training for journalists is indispensable in the protection of human rights and press freedom.

The seminar, organised by the United Nations Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa, UNCHRD, and UNESCO, was to beef up the knowledge of journalists on the link between human rights and press freedom, ahead of the World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

Besides training, participants recommended that Government institutes subventions to the press, sign conventions that guarantee human rights and freedom of the press such as the Florence and Nairobi Accords and open up more access to information, amongst others. Prof. Albert Mbida, in a presentation on the theme; “The Media and Human Rights in Cameroon,” highlighted international and regional legal instruments that guarantee freedom of the press.

He noted that this freedom has limitations in three main domains, private life, presumption of innocence and reputation. Identifying the role of the press in the promotion and vulgarisation and defence of human rights, Mbida painted a pathetic picture of the Cameroonian press, which is unable to perform this role because of the absence of training and lack of interest in human rights.

He said the press is expected to play the watchdog role of denouncing situations of human rights violations, stigmatise corruption and acts of impunity, and went on to recommend that journalists should be trained in journalism schools, through the organisation of seminars and learn from elders in the profession. Given that human rights and press freedom do not exist in a vacuum, Dorothee Onguene schooled participants on the international and regional instruments that guarantee human rights and freedom of press.

From the general to the specific, she said the foundation of human rights and press freedom rests on the universal declaration of human rights, the international pact on civil and political rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Though regretting that the procedure of seeking redress is long, Onguene indicated that it must be respected.

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