African media leaders to counter hate speech

Regulation & Policy

An unprecedented commitment by African media leaders to work together to counter hate speech was made in Kigali on April 18th at the conclusion of the EJN's first major initiative to strengthen journalism across the continent. The Kigali Declaration announced the launch of the campaign Turning the Page of Hate in Media, including plans for further activities in Uganda and South Africa in the coming weeks.

The Kigali Declaration, drafted and finalised after a two-day conference on the dangers of hate speech to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide also won the backing of the Government, which invited the EJN and its member organisation the African Media Initiative (AMI) to organise an annual conference on media and intolerance in Rwanda.

The next step for the campaign will be a conference on hate Speech and Reporting on Violence and Discrimination Against Women to be organised by the EJN in co-operation with the International Association of Women in Radio and Television in Kampala at the end of May. The campaign will also be a centrepiece of the African Media Leaders Forum to be held in November in Johannesburg.
Another sign of the impact of this event, which has the backing of Africa-wide groups of journalists, editors and media owners was the call for partnership between the African Union and the African media community on the campaign from Benita Diop, the Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security who spoke at the meeting.

The meeting also endorsed a detailed five-point test for journalists when covering hate speech which has been developed by the EJN.
Elsewhere, the EJN will lead a discussion among Ukraine media leaders in Kiev on the ethics of journalism at a time when propaganda dominates the public discourse in the growing political crisis between Ukraine and Russia. The EJN Director will make a keynote address to a conference being organized by the Council of Europe in Kiev on April 24th.

The EJN Director will also lead discussions for journalists from the Arab region in Doha on April 28th where the challenges of reporting elections will be addressed as well as a session on the Turning the Page of Hate campaign.

The EJN Communications Officer will take part in a media and hate speech event being organised by the International Federation of Journalists in Brussels on April 25th where once again the campaign will be highlighted. Earlier in the month, to mark the start of the genocide anniversary activities, the Belgian government organised a major international conference on hate speech where the EJN's Jean-Paul Marthoz was among the key speakers.

Meanwhile, the EJN has linked up with the World Association of Newspapers and World Editors Forum to promote a discussion on codes of conduct at their Turin conference on June 10th. EJN advisor Tom Kent from the Associated Press will join a discussion where Kent will highlight the ground-breaking work of the Online News Association to develop a new format for creating credible and viable codes for online journalism.

WAN also attended the EJN conference in Rwanda and backed the Kigali Declaration which also called on African governments to show their commitment to loosening ties on media by signing up to the Declaration of table Mountain which calls for criminal defamation and insult laws to be repealed. Earlier, on April 13th, the EJN Director set the scene for the Africa campaign at an ethics session organised for the International Press Institute Congress in Cape Town.
Other activities planned for Africa in the coming months include a session on election reporting to be organised in Nairobi and a six-country event for Johannesburg on May 27-28 to highlight actions to combat corruption in media.

This will coincide with the launch of the international survey being launched by the EJN.

On May 5th the EJN will join a conference in Vienna on setting standards for open journalism being organised by the Organisation for security and Co-operation in Europe prior to visits to Singapore and Indonesia to promote standards in media coverage of elections.

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Source: EJN, April 2014.