From Ayodele Samuel Lagos
As the global community marks the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI), the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria has announced the launch of the “The Nigerian Journalists Internet Rights Initiative (NJIRI)”.
Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said the main objectives of the NJIRI are to defend Internet and digital rights as well as the safety of journalists online.
Mr. Arogundade explained further that the one-year campaign will aim to advance the right of freedom of expression for online journalists in Nigeria based on the premise that internet spaces and online platforms should be safe and free of institutional limitations for journalists and other media practitioners to use as mediums of information and engagement.
Mr. Arogundade said it was imperative to demand for the safety of journalists online on the occasion of the #AccessToInfoDay given the worrisome trend of indiscriminate attacks on journalists, bloggers and others.
He said these objectives accord with principles of #AccessToInfoDay given its relevance to the new 2030 Development Agenda, and in particular the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 16.10 which calls for ensuring public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms.
NJIIRI is being supported by International Freedom of Exchange (IFEX), an international freedom of expression organization headquartered in Toronto, Canada. It is expected that through the project, the right to freedom of expression for online journalism in Nigeria is respected, protected and guaranteed within the medium and long term.
As part of the project a research report titled “Issues in frameworks, freedom of expression and Internet rights in Nigeria: A baseline research by the Nigerian Journalists Internet Rights Initiative (NJIRI)” has been commissioned and is being reviewed following which there will be a public presentation and dissemination to stakeholder groups in the freedom of expression community.
It is also envisaged that the research report would play a critical role in the NJIRI campaign as it shall serve as referral document for engagement with statutory bodies and related stakeholders groups under the NJIRI.
The IPC project recognizes that Universal access is central to the UN’s World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which recognized the ambition of developing inclusive Knowledge Societies. “Accessibility” is also recognized as one of the four principles in UNESCO’s ROAM model of Internet Universality.
Universal access to information is bound up with the right to seek and receive information, which is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression. It is covered by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.