IDUAI: FG needs to renew commitment to freedom of expression, Safety of journalists

The Federal Government of Nigeria needs to renew its commitment to freedom of expression and safety of journalists and activists and there no better day to remind president Buhari lead administration other than the day set aside by UNESCO for marking “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI).

With growing cases of Journalists, arrest, attack and detention by the state actors such as the cases of  Ibraheema Yakubu, who reports for the Hausa service of Deutsche Welle, DW radio, Germany, that was arrested and brutalised while covering a procession by Shiites in Kaduna, Danjuma Katsina who was also arrested over posting a comment on Facebook in which he analyzed the outcome of the Mashi/Dutsi bye-election conducted in May and the arrest of Mr Emmanuel Atswen, a reporter of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), over a report on the protest by IDPs at the International Market camp in Makurdi just to mention few.

2017 is the second year of UNESCO marking 28 September as the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI). On 17 November 2015, UNESCO adopted a resolution (38 C/70) declaring 28 September of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

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Access to information is a fundamental right. It allows women and men to understand and participate in creating and sharing the knowledge they need to contribute fully to society. It is a condition of informed citizenship, helping to hold governments accountable. It is a driver of innovation and creativity, widening opportunities for all, especially for girls and women.

IDUAI has particular relevance with the new 2030 Development Agenda, and in particular with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 16.10 which calls for ensuring public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms.

Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO said ”Being informed starts with the commitment of Governments to develop, promulgate and enforce policies and laws on the Right to Information to guarantee the respect of this human right. This requires efficient implementation mechanisms and a culture of transparency across all types of institutions. Citizens need also to have the critical thinking, literacy and digital skills required to access, analyse and use the information in different ways, offline and online.

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”This is why UNESCO calls on all governments and partners to leverage the power of Information and Communication Technologies to help achieve Sustainable Education Goal 4 for ensuring “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Access to Information is also about promoting development of content that will be relevant, local and multilingual. All of this calls for proactive policies and strong partnerships at all levels” she said.

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