Cameroon: Journalists Schooled, Take Commitment On Reporting Minority Issues

Over thirty Journalists have been schooled on how to report minority issues. This was during a two day workshop organized by the United Nations Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa on October 26 and 27 in Douala.

The Journalists who were drawn from four regions of the country, North West, South West, Littoral and Centre were drilled on human rights as well as indigenous rights which in most cases are violated especially among minorities.

The Human Rights Associate in the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zoe Poznicek explains the purpose of this workshop. “To reinforce the capacity of participants on reporting ethically and efficiently on reporting on minority issues without reinforcing negative stereotypes while promoting positive stories to be told.”

She furthered that the socio political context of the two English speaking regions of the country accounts for the choice of the training. “In the Cameroonian context where we have the sociopolitical crisis in the North West and South West Regions which are clearly very strong limits for linguistic minority issues, it is particularly pertinent for media to be trained on how to report on this.”

Dr Hilaire Kamga while facilitating a session on the international instruments protecting language minority rights cited African Union and United Nations laws which protect the dignity and identity of minorities. He also highlighted the different laws on official languages in Cameroon and linguistic minorities, while urging the journalists to report issues that violate these laws.

Veteran Journalist, Tricia Oben, schooled the participants on the role the media has to play in promoting and protecting minority rights. She urged the journalists to find way to tell these stories amidst the challenges they may face from their different media organs.

The National Program Officer for Human Rights Central Africa Regional Office, Joseph Lereh Fajong later brought forth a checklist for journalists reporting stories on minority issues. He urged the journalists to always do research on the issues they want to report so as not to be taken aback by what they meet on the field.

Participants brainstorming during group work

Promise Akanteh is a participant from Yaounde and she shared her experience with this reporter. “The workshop was very enriching. I learned a lot about minority groups, official and unofficial minorities and how to go about reporting on their rights. My way of communicating will definitely be better henceforth. My gratitude to the organizers and facilitators.” Promise remarked.

Another participant from the North West Region, Colbert Gwain, expressed his satisfaction after the workshop.

“To say the least, the training brought back to the forefront of public consciousness the central role media can play in projecting the concerns of minority and indigenous peoples , not only in Cameroon but across the globe. The two-day come-together helped me sharpen my skills on reporting issues of minority rights, not in a way to ignite conflict but rather in a matter to promote understanding and the need for a systematic framework to enable minorities flourish in the larger body polity”.

The participants after the workshop took up the commitment to report more on minority issues, an area which they think has not been given so much visibility in the Cameroon media landscape.

By Sandrine M.

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