West African governments have been urged to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment for journalists and media professionals to perform their work professionally and without undue interference.
A communique issued by participants at the just ended West Africa Conference on Media and Participatory Governance urged governments who were still to adopt the Right to Information (RTI) Bill to ensure effective and timely access to information online and offline for all citizens and media personnel through the adoption of the Bill.
The two-day conference, on the theme: “Promoting Professional Journalism for Good Governance in West Africa,” was organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), with funding from The Open Society Initiative for West Africa, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the United States Embassy, and the Global Partners Digital.
It brought together media development organisations and experts from all 16 countries in West Africa.
“We also urge the ECOWAS to adopt a regional framework on access to information in line with the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
“We commend the governments of Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Niger, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire for passing the RTI Bills and encourage them to further ensure effective implementation of the Bills.
“We urgently call on all media owners, managers, editors and journalists in the region to pay strong attention to the issue and take steps to improve professional standards,” the communique said.