By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie from Abuja
20 Journalists from the print and electronic media within the 15 member states of West Africa, as well as representatives of advocacy groups and experts in human trafficking and child protection have resolved to establish a media Network for combating Trafficking in Persons and Child Protection in the region. The journalists have resolved that the Network should take full advantage of information technologies to ensure effective connectivity of its members and sustained information flow. This Network will serve as a roadmap to ensure increased sensitization and mobilization of the individuals and the public within West Africa towards combating trafficking in persons.
Trafficking in persons is a human rights abuse which impinges on the rights to dignity, freedom and, sometimes the right to life and poses serious challenges to state and human security in the region in a variety of ways.
The media workshop was organized by the ECOWAS Commission with objectives to determine priorities in developing a strategy for sensitization and mobilization of the West African public towards combating trafficking in persons and ensuring child protection.
ECOWAS Commission also seeks to train media organizations about reporting on the rights of women and children.
At the first regional workshop held in Abuja, Nigeria beginning October 28-30, 2013, discussants and participants resolved to highlight the causative factors of human trafficking and other violations of the rights of children and the linkage of those factors to development and governance and re-affirmed the mandate of the media as a watchdog and the conscience of society.
Journalists at the program further agreed that the Network shall provide a broad based platform for knowledge sharing and information exchanges within the media as well as connection to civil society and other actors in combating trafficking in persons and child protection.
The orientation of the Network shall encompass reporting of news around the issues of human trafficking and child protection and shall extend to advocacy and knowledge management. In this respect, the Network shall develop and sustain a common information repository that will be accessible to its members and to actors beyond the Network.
Member countries within the Network called upon the ECOWAS Commission to facilitate the full establishment of the Network and adoption of a regional media and communication strategy on the combat of Human Trafficking and for Child Protection.
The workshop which was declared opened by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Humanitarian Development and Gender, Dr. Adrienne Diop, who was represented by the Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Dr. Daniel Eklu called on media organizations and journalists in the region to support efforts by the ECOWAS Commission at eradicating human trafficking and strengthening child protection measures.
Earlier on, the Acting Director of Communications, Mr. Sunny Ugoh urged the workshop participants to support the development of an effective media and communication strategy as well as the establishment of a functional network that can be used to address the issue of human trafficking and child protection in the region.