As part of its campaign and advocacy strategies to enhance safety of journalists across West Africa, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), in collaboration with its national partner organisation in Togo, Union des Journalists Indépendants du Togo (UJIT), on March 5, 2019, organised a one-day national level forum on police and media relations at the Hotel Eda-Oba in Lomé.
The forum brought together journalists, editors, officials of the media regulator, High Authority for Audiovisual and Communications (HAAC), as well as the top brass of the Police and Gendarmerie. There was also a strong government representation including the Togolese Minister of Communication, Sports and Civic Education, and an aide to the Minister in charge of the national security.
The forum also served as a platform for both police and media to express their grievances and to discuss ways to improve the working relationship between the two sides to end incidents of assaults on journalists and protect the media to carry out its mandate.
Two presentations were made by a senior police officer, Commissioner of Police, Ayewana-Adan Kossi and a member of the HAAC, Pierre Sabi Kassere, on the topics “Police Principles of Law Enforcement” and “Journalistic Principles in the Coverage of Public Events”, respectively
The presentations were followed by open discussions where participants expressed their concerns, expectations and offered suggestions on ways of strengthening relations between the police and the media. At the end of the forum, a seven-point recommendation was adopted:
- There is the need for a regular organisation of forums and other informal engagements between the political authorities, the security forces and the media in order to foster a more cordial relationship between these actors
- There is the need for the organisation of an Open Day by the security forces to enable them to interact with the media and citizens to create a better bond
- Ensure regular sensitisation of both parties on the duties and responsibilities of each other, with the police sharing standard operating procedures with media.
- The police should ensure regular press interface, briefings, press releases and press conferences. In this way, media should have full access to PPROs and the synergy should continue after elections.
- The inclusion of media relations in the training curriculum of the police at all levels
- Mutual respect and cooperation and avoidance of brash and over-bearing attitude on both sides.
- The consideration of journalists’ safety in the planning of the security forces for operations related to elections, demonstrations and sporting events
This initiative was funded by UNESCO-IPDC.