The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) on Monday launched its project on combating impunity for attacks against journalists by public institutions or state actors, among others. Implementing the project supported by the Global Media Defence Fund (GMDF) through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), MRA admonished that anyone who unjustifiably threaten or undermine the safety or security, freedom and wellbeing of media professionals in Nigeria would be confronted with legal suits.
MRA, accordingly, assured that implementing the project supported by the Global Media Defence Fund (GMDF) through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the NGO will provide pro bono legal assistance and litigation support to journalists in Nigeria whose rights are threatened or violated to protect their rights and combat the culture of impunity for such attacks. The NGO also indicated that project would provide a safe environment for journalists to effectively do their work.
The Head of MRA Legal Department, Chioma Nwaodike, declaring the commencement of the project, stated: “We are excited to be able to implement this project, building on our previous efforts to promote and defend media freedom, and in particular, to provide legal assistance and litigation support to the media community in Nigeria to enable its members carry out their primary duties of educating and enlightening the society while also upholding the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people, as required by the Constitution.”
Nwaodike added that in addition to the MRA goal of providing a safe and conducive environment for journalism practice in Nigeria, the NGO will further engage in strategic litigation to challenge any obstacle to that goal.
“MRA is privileged to be supported in this endeavour by a network of seasoned and committed lawyers from across Nigeria who have agreed to deploy their knowledge, legal expertise and experience on behalf of journalists and media organizations in Nigeria free of charge in the event that their rights are violated or threatened or where their safety or security is in jeopardy,” Ms Nwaodike declared.
The Head of Lega Department maintained that in pursuing the mandate of MRA to promote and defend media freedom, and the fact that the activities of those who attack journalists and the media serve to make the environment for media practice toxic, the NGO will not always seek the consent of the affected journalists or media organizations before taking action.
“We will explore all available legal mechanisms and instruments at national, regional and international levels as well as the protections and remedies that they offer. In every case we undertake on behalf of media victims of attacks, we will bring the full weight of the relevant instruments and mechanisms to bear on the perpetrators, regardless of whether they are government officials, law enforcement and security agents, or non-state actors,” she said.