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Archive for November 8th, 2008

West African Journalists Association (WAJA) sub-regional training of journalists in Banjul

Posted by African Press International on November 8, 2008

mohamed-legally-cole.jpg<By Mohammed Legally-Cole /API

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) in collaboration with the Capacity Building Project of the West African Journalists Association (CBP-WAJA) alongside the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) organized a three day sub-regional workshop for the training of West African Journalists on the Role of journalists in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and the promotion of human rights from October 14 16, 2008 at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Banjul.

Thirty participants, International Media Fraternity, practicing journalists with several years of working experience interested in conflict and human rights reporting including NGOs were drawn from 15 Ecowas countries and the Republic of Mauritania.

In a rather short but articulate opening remarks, the president of the Gambian Press Union (GPU) Ndey Tapha Sosseh, who also serving as the 2nd Vice President of WAJA welcome all participants and delegates of NGOs from the sub-region to the WAJA sub-regional training workshop for journalists on the theme the role of journalists in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and the promotion of human rights.

This she said, GPU has partner with WAJA to organize a sub-regional activity that seeks to put journalism and the media at the heart of debate on fostering peace, conflict prevention with a particular emphasis on the promotion of human rights is not a coincident.

She also stated that journalists are stakeholders in building a conflicts free zone, preventing conflicts and preserving the peace and promoting peaceful measures at all times, upholding human rights as enshrined in our national constitutions and the international human rights documents that our governments are signatories to.

She described WAJA as the body that brings together all Journalists Associations and Unions in the sub-regional and said we expect the outcome of code of conduct for peace reporting, better understanding of sources of conflicts, conflict prevention measures, human rights instruments, the Ecowas Court to be borne out of the crux of the debates and discussion.

The GPU president and second vice president of WAJA, Ndey Tapha Sosseh also expressed her fervent wish that in this melting pot of practitioners from all over the sub-region, by the end of the three days, there would have been an exchange of insight, context and wisdom which in turn will enable us at least to learn something new and decided on a different approach towards achieving our goals to inform, to educate and speak the truth to power.

In his opening statements, Monsieur Ibrahim Famakan Coulibally, the president of WAJA said that WAJA work against harassment of journalists in the sub-region, fight against the illegal imprisonment of journalists in the sub-region and impunity. He also gave a brief rundown of the new WAJA executive. He said that the Banjul meeting is organized exclusively by WAJA in collaboration with partners in particular the Ecowas Federation of Journalists

We are calling on the government of the Gambia to bring to justice those who are responsible for the killing of colleague Deyda Hydara, the Editor-in-Chief of The Point Newspaper, the whereabout of Chief Ebrima Manneh and other issues pertaining to media/government relationship.

Monsieur Coulibally also said that in an organized Cocktail Reception and WAJA Excellence Award night 2008 to be held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, the late Deyda Hydara, Proprietor and Editor-in Chief of The Point Newspaper who was gunned down on 16th December 2004 will be honoured by WAJA with a post humous Lifetime Achievement Award.

According to Famakan Coulibally, this is the first prestigious award and the award is a commendation of Deyda Hydaras brevity, bravery, objectivity, beliefs and unwavering pursuance of the truth and cardinal principles of his profession journalism is symbolic of the struggle for the press freedom and freedom of expression in Africa. Deyda was a founding member and first treasurer of WAJA.

In her opening remarks, the Secretary of State for Communication, Information and technology Fatim Badjie Janneh expressed that the Government of the Gambia through her department under the able leadership of his Excellency the President Dr Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, recognized the importance and relevant of the journalists to nation building and it is also taken note of the role the media play in nurturing peace, security and stability and contribution to the socio-economic advancement of the country.

She went on to say that this has made government to encourage and promote establishment of media houses under the cardinal principle of responsible, factual and balance reporting, adding that we are pleased that the relationship of the media and the state has improved immensely for the better and press freedom has been upheld according to international best practices.

She also reiterated that the role of the journalists is very crucial to developing and maintaining a peaceful and conflict free nation where human rights and press freedom is promoted and upheld to the fullest and that journalists should promote the and treasure reporting about peace and how it contributes to development and progress

SOS DOCIT Fatim Badjie Janneh emphasized that in the exercise of human rights and individual rights, freedom of speech is integral but this has to go with high standard of responsibility, respect and tactfulness, saying that in exercising you freedom of speech and expression of ones rights, we need to be mindful that our actions does not encroach or trample on anothers freedom and once that is safeguarded, will sowing the good seeds of cordial and amicable relationship between the government and the journalists, private sector and journalists, the public and the media and individuals and journalists.

On the issue of conflict, SOS Fatim Badjie Janneh noted that the dissemination of information and news should avoid media reporting that may sow seeds of discord that fertilizes the ugly and human catastrophe called conflict.

Conflict have done havoc to some countries in Africa and the world at large. Conflicts have brought backwardness, destruction and retrogression to affected nations and their social fabrics, for example Rwanda, Darfur, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Kashmir, Palestine and so on. Some of these nations have plunged into conflicts triggered by politics, social tensions, racial hatred, ethnic cleansing and media reporting that incites hatred and violence, she said, adding that the media many a time have been accused of instigating conflicts through irresponsible and sensational reporting under the guise of press freedom.

She also called on journalists not to lose sight of the fact that we have an overall responsibility to security and rights of people to live in peace and tranquility especially when exercising press freedom and freedom of expression, so therefore, responsible journalism, responsible reporting, prudent judgment and sensitivity to social justice, social coherence and stability should be the balancing probability of any responsible journalist or reporter. She also said that journalist should show the people the reward of peace and stability through documentaries and reports on war, conflicts, post conflicts, the destruction and retrogression that brought to nations and communities has to be exposed to people by all means and this will create awareness that would make people embrace peace and thus prevent conflicts.

She also informed journalists and media to promote peace activities, social cohesion initiatives and events and actions that could lead to peace building and conflict prevention, engaging politicians, security personnel and individuals through educational and sensitization campaigns on human rights, conflict prevention and peace building which through the media can become a positive influence.

Journalists identifying the root causes of conflicts, identifying conflict solutions and preventive measures that can help a long way. Therefore, for journalists to achieve these goals, they have to not be responsible but seen to be responsible, credible and act according to set ethics, guidelines and code of conduct, she expressed.

In her conclusion remarks, she expressed her sincere appreciation and thanks to the West African Journalists Association (WAJA) and the Gambian Press Union (GPU) for organizing such a great workshop with such a relevance to our geo-political and socio-economical environment and also thank GPU for the positive engagement they are making with the government and looking forward to a much fruitful partnership.

The programme was chaired by Mr Swaebou Konateh, a veteran journalist and Editor-in Chief and publisher of News and Report.

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Childhood Shattered By Inhumane Court Rulings, Say Children

Posted by African Press International on November 8, 2008

BY Catherine Mills

We, the Courageous Kids Network , are a growing group of young people, whose childhood was shattered by biased and inhumane court rulings, which forced us to live with our abusive parent, while restricting or sometimes completely eliminating contact with our loving and protective parent.

Some of us, whose mothers tried to protect us from abuse, did not see our mothers for years, or were only allowed to see our mothers under oppressive supervised visitation orders.

We were not allowed to hug our mothers, or talk about how we felt. Some of us were separated from siblings, grandparents and extended family. We lost our home, pets, toys, friends, our childhood.

We lived in fear, depression, hopelessness and helplessness for years. Some of us ran away from our abusers. Some could not handle the trauma and committed suicide.

We who survived, got older and stronger. Now we are telling the world how much we were hurt, first by our abusers and then by the court that refused to protect us….

Some of us have turned 18, and are now “free”, although nightmares and painful memories will haunt us for many years, maybe forever. Some of us still have siblings in the clutches of our abusers.

We are kids from all over the country who have been beaten, molested, raped, sodomized, mentally battered, isolated, terrorized, and shamed by our controlling, battering parents.

We have been mentally, physically, sexually, verbally, emotionally, and psychologically abused by court order.

We have been misrepresented by court-appointed attorneys; facts were falsified or twisted by court-appointed evaluators; we were forced through mind-games (brain-washed) by court-appointed counselors to be silent about the abuse. Neither our voices, nor the voices of our protective parents, were heard.

Many of us suffered because the court accepted an invalid theory, Parental Alienation Syndrome (nicknamed “PAS”.)

This is a completely bogus mental health label put on protective parents by lawyers and psychologists who get paid by abusers to cover up their history of domestic violence and child abuse.

PAS twists everything around to make the protective parent look bad and the abuser look good, so the court will switch custody to the abuser.

For a more detailed explanation of this phony syndrome, see “Courageous Kids Can’t Be Fooled-PAS Exposed for What It Is.”

The courts that heard our cases were far more anxious to label our mothers as “parent alienators” than to believe that our fathers, who look “normal,” were beating, molesting, or mentally battering us.

Judges and court appointees turned on our protective mothers with a vengeance.

They refused to allow our mothers to present evidence or witness testimony to prove that our fathers had abused us, and refused to listen to anything we, the victims, had to say about being abused.

Most of our mothers were completely stripped of custody, leaving us motherless, and with no protection from our abusive fathers.

All of our mothers were treated like villains, and all of us kids suffered because of the way the courts treated our mothers.

In the courts’ frenzy to punish our mothers for trying to protect us, the courts failed to realize, or didn’t care, that they were punishing us too.

Taking children away from safe parents and placing them in the custody of abusive parents has been called “America’s most darkest, shameful secret” in an award-winning article by Kristen Lombardi , a Boston Phoenix reporter whose work on the priest-abuse crisis in Boston brought about the resignation of Cardinal Law.

Although difficult to believe that such horror exists in America today, thousands of children have been, and still are, taken away from their protective parent and placed with their abusers, by court orders.

And some kids who were placed with abusers years ago are still trapped because the courts that erroneously accepted PAS, refuse to admit to, and correct their mistakes.

Some of those kids are our younger siblings, and we are grieving for them.

Some of us are getting ready to sue the professionals who placed us in our abusive situations.

We have found it healing and empowering to finally be able to speak out about our experiences.

Our first speaking engagement was at the Tenth Annual Northern California Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Conference in April 2004.

We got a standing ovation and everyone said our talks made a big impact on them.

Some of us kids are not able to speak out yet, because we are still stuck with our abusers and we are too afraid of how they, and the courts, will retaliate against us and our protective parents if we speak out.

But we are getting support online from others in the Courageous Kids Network who managed to escape.

Knowing there are other kids like us out there, who we can talk to and who understand what we are going through, helps those of us who are still trapped not to feel so alone.

For those of us who can speak out, we know that if we put our voices together, we can make a difference and change the family court system that is wrecking so many kids’ lives.

The Courageous Kids Network is an organization dedicated to stopping the continuing assault on children’s human right to live free from abuse.

To learn more about the Courageous Kids Network click here

Justice Must Be Seen, To Be Done.

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