Anglophone African Journalists trained on International criminal law and justice reporting

By Elias Hakizimana.

Around 40 Anglophone Journalists from 12 African Countries concluded a two-day training programme on International criminal law and justice in order to foster knowledge capabilities in reporting on these issues. 

The training that was organized by the African Centre of International Criminal Justice (ACICJ) in partnership with the Kingdom of the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana took place at the Ghanaian Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) in Accra at Moot Court law faculty conference room from November 14th to 16th, 2019 with the aim to strengthen African Anglophone journalists to report on cross-cutting criminal issues.

After a detailed information about how the International Criminal Court (ICC) operates, Journalists were advised to create a space in their media platforms whereby the community will get information about international criminal justice.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the training, Professor Philip Ebow Bondzi-Simpson, Rector of GIMPA warned journalists to not sensationalize while making their news stories about International criminal law and justice, rather, he advised them on making further editing after covering a balanced article so that the community remains intact with a trust of what media report.

“ICC remembers what happened in African countries whose people suffered wars and we know journalists have a significant role on what we report. Do we sensationalize? Do we edit? Journalism is critical to how the society will learn about their broadcasts and reports,” Prof. Philip said. 

Professor Justice Dennis Adjei, Dean.GIMPA Faculty of Law and Justice of the Court of Appeal of Ghana recalled journalists to report accurately because inaccurate report can mislead the society.

A journalist asking a question during the training session.

The training embarked on how the States and the ICC should fight against impunity and how the victims should be attended to.

The Ambassador of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Ghana, His Excellency Mr. Ron Strikker, said that all the sides of the case including the victims must be looked on when compiling a successful news article.

“20 years ago we have been fighting against impunity and until now we make sure that the culprits are punished. You should importantly show the role of the victims so that they get justice. In Rwanda, genocide perpetrators get justice and the victims speak out, they can speak about what happened to them, they can describe and give testimony.” Said H.E. Ambassador Ron Strikker.

Ambassador of The Royal Netherlands Embassy to Ghana Ron Strikker with some among the journalists posing for a group photo

Journalists were explained about genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression which are under the coverage of ICC.

“Last week, the ICC has witnessed a key development with the sentencing of Mr. Bosco Ntaganda. The judges have pronounced a 30 years imprisonment sentence, the highest at the Court, if we leave aside life imprisonment. It’s important because of the previous sentencing decisions in other cases but also because it sends a strong message to those out there who are doing or thinking of doing the same, namely committing crimes against humanity and war crimes.” said Dahirou SANT-ANNA, International Cooperation Adviser at the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC.

Reminding the participating journalists that they should always be mindful of the key principles of impartiality, objectivity and independence that are key for a judicial institution, Mr. SANT-ANNA also highlighted the importance of respecting the confidentiality of the proceedings, the presumption of innocence of the accused and the protection of witnesses in their work

DAHIROU SANT-ANNA, International Cooperation Adviser at ICC with Jean Jacques Badibanga giving a certificate to journalists

The ICC has encountered challenges with the media when it decided to investigate suspects in Kenya and during the trial of the former President of Cote d’Ivoire, and it is therefore important, according to Mr. Dahirou SANT-ANNA, that journalists engage more actively with the Court to ensure they have primary source information and provide balanced and accurate information to both the general public and the communities affected by the crimes ICC deals with.

Mr. SANT-ANNA advised journalists to report on ICC proceedings by first understanding what ICC is about. “ I am not asking you to become a lawyer, you are a journalist and the way you approach things is different from the lawyers, you must understand what are the crimes falling under the jurisdiction of ICC, what are the cases ICC is prosecuting to better inform the public and avoid erroneous information.” He said.

Participants to the training came from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Uganda and Rwanda.

Jean Jacques Badibanga

All participants and trainers posing for a group photo

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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