PALU, CAJ, Unveil Framework Of African Media Lawyers Network

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*Official launch holds May 2024

By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan

The Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) and the Congress of African Journalists (CAJ) have formally unveiled the framework of the African Media Lawyers Network (AMLN) in coordination with the UNESCO Liaison Office to AU and UNECA, 

This followed a stakeholders’ validation virtual meeting on 31 January 2024 attended by over 60 key stakeholders, drawn from media, civil society, lawyers’ networks, and other freedom of expression and human rights experts from across the continent.

The AMLN, according to a statement at the end of the meeting, is aimed at protecting and promoting press freedom, providing legal expertise,and supporting journalists and media houses in advocating for a legal environment that is conducive to independent and responsible journalism in the AU member states. 

With an empowered team of lawyers, the AMLN will lead concerted responses to emerging threats and harassment of journalists as well as providing the necessary legal support, including reviewing media laws and policies.

It will further facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing among legal actors, media partners and stakeholders, which can fast track protecting journalists and promoting press freedom on the continent. 

The stakeholders at the meeting appraised the framework and applauded the initiative as “a major milestone for the continent in the fight for the safety of journalists” emphasized the significance of continuous training for young journalists and lawyers, the necessity of transparency throughout all layers and processes, and the importance of sustainability so the network can fulfil and keep on fulfilling its potentials. 

The stakeholders said, “The establishment of the African Media Lawyers Network has benefited from the collaboration and endorsement of key stakeholders in the continent and our global partners. 

In his opening remarks at the meeting, the National President of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) who is also the Congress of African Journalists (CAJ), President, Chief Christopher Isiguzo said, ” We shall carry on in this wonderful spirit and leave no one behind in our efforts at implementing this significant milestone aimed at providing legal support and protection of journalists in the course of their work in Africa”.

The AMLN is currently hosted by PALU at its continental offices in Arusha, Tanzania and will be launched during the third Africa Media Convention (AMC), a continental gathering of African and global media stakeholders and partners, in May 2024 in Accra, Ghana. 

Prior to its official launch in May 2024,the AMLN, in coordination with African media stakeholders will conduct a capacity building workshop for a select number of journalists and lawyers on media litigation, media defence, media freedom, safety of journalists and access to information in Africa as a first step in promoting and creating an environment wherein freedom of expression can be exercised truly and freely.

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