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By Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
This week Istanbul will host two separate but related international conferences on mediation. One will be devoted to the state of play in the conflict map and capacity for mediation within the membership of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The second one will adopt a broad scope and discuss the connections between sustainable development, peace and mediation; the ways to increase gender and youth inclusion in mediation processes; and a thought provoking session on the role of big data and artificial intelligence in conflict and mediation analysis. It may be thought that conferences are conferences but the Istanbul Mediation Conferences have proven rather influential in cultivating a shared understanding of issues and an agenda for action in the field of mediation and peaceful conflict resolution. As the host of these conferences and the only country that co-chairs the Friends of Mediation Groups in three distinct important international organizations, namely the United Nations, the OIC and the OSCE, Turkey has the ability to share the findings of these conferences in these international organizations.
The fact of the matter is that humanity is facing a distinct challenge in the 21st century. Just when many people thought that the glass is half full in terms of the achievements in international law, institutions, democracy and the rule of law, accountability, free trade, gender equality and others, the empty half of the glass has begun to reassert itself. The symptoms are known to all of us and need no reminding. Trade wars, new forms of international exploitation, geopolitical competitions, great power proxy wars, disintegrating nation states, terrorism, xenophobia, animosity against Islam, raging inequalities and injustice count among the contemporary trends that make up the glass half empty. The challenges of humanity are eating away the achievements and opportunities of humanity. Which side will prevail? The answer depends on how we respond to challenges, including on how much we humans can work together towards positive outcomes. One point is clear: unless we take initiative and be enterprising and humanitarian, the bad will prevail. Wait-and-see attitude is no longer tenable. Policy options differ from mediation to actual use of force against terrorists.
Take the situation in Syria. Turkey’s enterprising and humanitarian approach cleared a total of 4000 square kilometers from two terrorist organizations, DEASH and PKK/PYD/YPG. Had we not intervened, our people would have been under continued assault from these terrorists and a political solution to the Syrian tragedy would have been unreachable. Turkey is doing utmost to relieve humanitarian suffering, hosting the greatest number of refugees worldwide, spending more than the biggest economy in the world as the world’s top humanitarian spender. Turkey is also brokering agreements that save tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives and promoting a political solution based on the territorial integrity of the neighboring Syria.
I gave the example of Syria for a reason. Syria demonstrates to us once again that prevention is important because once the fire of conflict engulfs a nation, then the only thing that remains predictable is that there will be unpredictable consequences on that state. One generation of citizens will be wasted in one way or the other; the future will also be bleak. Everyone, including those who are thousands of kilometers away will come to suffer, either in the form of terrorist threat, economic shock, irregular migration, or wounded human conscience.
If prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts are of paramount importance, then we must take it seriously. This appreciation is driving Turkey’s efforts in the field of mediation as the co-chair of the UN, OSCE and OIC friends of mediation groups and the host to a capacity building mediation training program and the two mediation conferences that we will organize in Istanbul this week.
Mr Cavuşoğlu is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey
The 2nd annual Jubbaland Trade Fair has opened in the southern Somali city of Kismayo, with several Somali organisations including Star Media Development Centre participating.
The fair is aimed at offering Somali businesses in the region a platform to promote their goods and services. Organised by the Jubbaland Ministry of Trade, the fair comes to a close on Friday, November 30.
Jubbaland President Ahmed Madobe visited the exhibition stand of the Star Media Group.
At the end of the Sixth General Meeting of the African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) held in Accra, Ghana, on November 7 and 8, 2018.
The Sixth General Meeting of the African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX), a network of African freedom of expression and media development organisations which are members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), was held in Accra, Ghana, on Wednesday, November 7 and Thursday, November 8, 2018.
The meeting, hosted by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), and presided, over by AFEX Steering Committee Chairperson, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, who is the Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), was attended by representatives of all AFEX member organisations from West, East, Central and Southern Africa. The meeting was also attended by two representatives from ARTICLE 19 Brazil and ARTICLE 19 Mexico as well as journalists from Ghana.
The meeting discussed institutional issues concerning AFEX as well as the current state of freedom of expression in Africa and strategies for addressing the threats to freedom of expression and media freedom on the continent, particularly, the issues of the safety of journalists and how to confront the challenge of impunity for crimes against journalists. Participants resolved to develop a plan of action on the safety of journalists in Africa which will guide advocacy interventions by members of the AFEX Network and other press freedom organisations.
At the end of the meeting, members of the Network unanimously adopted this Resolution:
. We are deeply concerned about the growing wave of attacks against journalists and the media in general across the African continent, especially during elections. We are further disturbed by the widespread increase in the level of insecurity in journalism practice, arising from the unchecked acts of violence against media professionals and media organizations.
. We believe that the failure of African governments to live up to their responsibility of protecting journalists as well as other members of the public is exacerbating this problem with numerous cases of unresolved killings of journalists and other crimes against journalists that have not been properly investigated in many countries, including Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda, and Cameroon.
. Given the well-established norm that the ability of citizens to freely exercise their right to freedom of expression underpins democratic practice in any country, we are of the view that the deteriorating state of freedom of expression on the African continent is a clear signal of the decline in the quality of democracy in Africa.
. We find it ironic and contradictory that although African Union (AU) leaders have launched 2018 as the African Anti-Corruption Year, its members are actively hounding the media and media professionals in many countries for reporting and exposing official corruption.
. We call on African countries to establish multi-stakeholder national mechanisms, ideally backed by Law, to promote the safety of journalists and other actors who are often targeted for exercising their right to freedom of expression and through which a range of activities in this regard can be coordinated and implemented. Such activities could potentially include the reform of media laws, the monitoring of threats and attacks to freedom of expression, as well as the training of members of different stakeholder groups such as the military, law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies; legislators, and member of the Judiciary. The mechanism could also serve as an avenue for the provision of protection for persons at risk and for responding to the problem of impunity.
. We are equally concerned about the increasing attacks on digital rights and Internet freedoms by governments and their intelligence services in some parts of Africa, including in countries like Uganda and Zambia, where social media taxes have recently been introduced, as well as in other countries like Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mali, Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo, where the Internet or social media services have been shut down from time to time.
. We are convinced that such acts only serve to worsen the digital divide which has already seen Africa lagging behind other regions of the world in the availability, affordability and use of the Internet and digital tools. Besides, they subvert the creativity and resourcefulness of African youths who are thereby deprived of opportunities to innovate in the digital age while undermining the potential of African countries to achieve economic, social and political development.
. We note that most countries in Africa continue to use criminal law to undermine the right to freedom of expression and to punish journalistic activities and other forms of expressions, including non-verbal expression. It is our view that in most of these circumstances, such laws serve no useful purpose other than to suppress criticism of public officials and official wrongdoing, reporting that exposes corruption or in some cases, to prevent the publication of politically embarrassing materials. There are also numerous examples on the continent where such laws have been used to prevent public scrutiny of political authorities, public institutions, and senior government officials, among others.
. We, therefore, call on all countries in Africa to undertake a comprehensive reform of their media laws to decriminalize media practice, promote and create a conducive and enabling legal environment for freedom of expression in the respective countries, consistent with international standards.
. We also call on media professionals and media professional bodies in Africa to take urgent steps to check and counteract the spread of “fake news” which is now regarded as one of the greatest threats to democracy around the world. While we acknowledge that the deliberate falsification of information and the dissemination of such information is not necessarily the handiwork of professional journalists, we are nonetheless convinced that professional journalists have a major role to play in checking this phenomenon by providing the public with accurate and reliable information and constantly establishing through their reporting the falsity or unreliability of fake news.
Members re-elected Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda in Nigeria, to serve as Chair of the AFEX Steering Committee for a further period of two years. They also elected to the Steering Committee Ms. Rea Simigiannis, Acting Executive Director of Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) in South Africa; Mr. Moses Magoola, Programmes Manager at the Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ-U) in Uganda; and Mr. Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in Ghana.
Adopted in Accra, Ghana, this Thursday, the 8th day of November, 2018
Members of AFEX:
Africa Freedom of Information Centre
Association for Media Development in South Sudan
Center for Media Studies and Peace Building
Freedom of Expression Institute
Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda
Institute for Media and Society
International Press Centre
Journaliste en danger
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
National Union of Somali Journalists
West African Journalists Association
Star Media Development Centre (SMDC) is working with GIZ, the German agency for international cooperation, on media campaigns to raise awareness about the nutritional benefits of eating fish and appropriate methods for preparing and preserving fish among returning refugees, internally displaced persons & vulnerable residents of the southern Somali coastal city of Kismayo.
Despite having second longest coastline in Africa, Somalia’s per capita consumption of fish is one of the lowest in the world. Fish is a relatively easy to access for large sections of the population.
The GIZ is also developing markets with sales outlets for fish products as well as counselling centres that provide advice on nutrition to mothers with infants and pregnant women in the city.
Initial measures to promote fish consumption have caught the attention of the population and even encouraged older people to change their eating habits.
The fisheries working group launched by GIZ is an example of putting the principle of effective help to practice. This working group brings together representatives of responsible authorities, NGOs and other development partners to create strategies, coordinate their own activities, improve efficiency and foster synergies through targeted consultation.
Police in Somalia are hunting for the gunmen who shot dead a local journalist, Mr Abdullahi Mohamed Hashi, on the outskirts of Mogadishu late on Saturday.
Mr Hashi was working for a local independent broadcaster known as Daaru Sunnah and he was reportedly well known in the Eelasha Biyaha area outside Mogadishu.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the killing.
Mr Hashi’s killing reaffirms that media practitioners in Somalia were still vulnerable to violence.
According to Shabelle Radio, an independent media in Mogadishu, Mr Hashi was killed by gunmen riding in a saloon car, who fled the crime scene soon afterwards.
Government security agents arrived at the scene after the killers had made their escape.
In the past two decades, tens of Somali journalists and media officials have fallen victims to violence. Many have been killed, others have suffered injuries while more have been forced to flee the country and several media houses forced to close down.
Journalists in Somalia often tell of being threatened, arrested and attacked over their work.
Although fish is culturally acceptable and considered ‘Halaal’, Somalia’s per capita consumption of fish is one of the lowest in the world. Fish is a relatively easy to access for large sections of the population.
Despite having the second longest coastline in Africa, Somalia’s fishing industry remains largely underdeveloped and its fisheries unexploited. This is partly due to decades of conflict and piracy on the high seas – but also because fish does not form part of the traditional Somali diet.
The country is still emerging from a food security crisis following the drought and famine of 2011 that left many thousands dead.
The main reasons for low consumption are limited availability, high cost and general lack of knowledge, skills and equipment’s for preservation and storage.
SMDC, with the support of the German international development agency GIZ, organised a one-day roadshow on Wednesday, 24 October 2018, in Kismayo, Somalia, to encourage families living in and around the coastal city to start including fish in their diets.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) 2018 Global Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free
Impunity is entrenched in 14 nations, according to CPJ’s 2018 Global Impunity Index, which ranks states with the worst records of prosecuting the killers of journalists.
Somalia tops the list for the fourth year in a row and two countries rejoin the list of offenders, including Afghanistan where a suicide attacker targeted a group of journalists in Kabul, killing nine. Colombia also reappeared on the ranks after a breakaway faction of a guerrilla group with alleged ties to drug trafficking kidnapped an Ecuadoran news crew near the border and murdered them in Colombian territory. Both nations had fallen off the index in recent years as violent conflict receded.
In the past decade, at least 324 journalists have been silenced through murder worldwide and in 85 percent of these cases no perpetrators have been convicted. It is an emboldening message to those who seek to censor and control the media through violence. More than three quarters (82 percent) of these cases took place in the 14 countries that CPJ included on the index this year. All 14 countries have featured on the index multiple times since CPJ began to compile it in 2008, and half have appeared every year.
The majority of victims are local journalists. The list includes states where instability caused by conflict and violence by armed groups has fueled impunity, as well as countries where journalists covering corruption, crime, politics, business, and human rights have been targeted and the suspects have the means and influence to circumvent justice through political influence, wealth or intimidation.
The Impunity Index is published annually to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2. It calculates the number of unsolved murders over a 10-year period as a percentage of each country’s population. For this edition, CPJ analyzed journalist murders in every nation that took place between September 1, 2008 and August 31, 2018. Countries with five or more unsolved cases for the period are included. As a measure of political will to address impunity, CPJ noted which states participated in the UNESCO’s impunity accountability mechanism. Each year, this mechanism requests information on the status of investigations into killed journalists.
Source: Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
A prominent media watchdog has declared Somalia the country with the worst record of prosecuting people who kill journalists.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in its annual Global Impunity Index that 2018 was the fourth year in a row Somalia had topped the list.
It said impunity was “entrenched” in Somalia and 14 other countries, including Afghanistan and Colombia, where “those who seek to censor and control the media” use violence.
South Sudan and Nigeria also feature on the media watchdog’s list of places where killers of journalists go free.
“In the past decade, at least 324 journalists have been silenced through murder worldwide and in 85 percent of these cases no perpetrators have been convicted,” the report said.
The CPJ released the Impunity Index ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November.
On Saturday (27 October) gunmen shot dead Somali radio journalist Abdullahi Mire Hashi near Mogadishu, making him the third media worker to be killed in Somalia this year.
More than 25 other journalists have been killed in the country with “complete impunity” over the last decade, according to CPJ.
Freedom House says the Horn of Africa nation is one of the most dangerous places for journalists.
SOURCE: Star FM Kenya