After training journalists on how to report conflicts and human rights issues, the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development, in collaboration with Institute for War and Peace Reporting, has concluded its second phase of the “Voices of Change” project.
The second phase of the project, held from Tuesday to Thursday, was designed to train Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) with the aim of advancing human rights and social justice as reflected in global norms, national policies, and local practice.
The 3-day event had representatives from nine CSOs across the country, including the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), and Paged Initiative among others. These CSOs were tutored by savvy experts who cut across different sectors.
According to a statement by IWPR, the short-term outcome of the project is to build the capacity of journalists and CSOs to create awareness and deliver effective advocacy campaigns around accountability and justice for criminal human rights violations in Nigeria, while its long-term goal is to increase accountability for criminal human rights violations in Nigeria and ultimately lead to a reduction in those violations.
Participants at the training said the knowledge acquired during the training is a step up for them in their advocacy campaign, noting that the knowledge will be passed on to their respective organisations for practical implementation.
Noel Balogun, who represented Grassroots Initiative for Gender and Development (GRID) opined that; “the last three days have been very impactful in terms of deepening and increasing my knowledge on advocacy for protection and promotion of human rights, especially as it concerns persons with disabilities in Nigeria.”
He said he now has a better understanding of how to engage with the media, and utilise available technologies to further his work as an advocate working in the space of disability inclusion, gender mainstreaming, and humanitarian response/recovery.
Mr Balogun noted that he’s certain that a training like this is important for actors in this space to concretise on the work they are doing, saying; “I encourage the CJID to continue to build the capacity of CSOs and other relevant stakeholders so together, we can address issues of human rights violations in Nigeria.”
A representative from Devatop, a youth-led non-profit human rights defender, Victoria Oladiran, said the training has been most enlightening and insightful.
She said, “The knowledge on the importance of collaboration between CSOs and Journalists, conflict and peacebuilding understanding, law and effective communication models, amongst others has broadened my knowledge of advocacy and I believe will lead to more impactful advocacy when applied in my organisation.”
For Seyi Arowosebe, a lawyer who works with Citizens Gavel, the training has afforded him the opportunity to see fundamental human rights through a different lens.
He said, “The training will impact my work in my organisation, Citizens Gavel. I have now understood the importance of bringing stakeholders, more especially Journalists on board for projects and interventions. This gives more credence to the story because the journalist who covers the project is able to write an original story.”
Citizens Common representative, Oluwaukola Adimula said; “It has been an exciting and engaging three days CJID/IWPR workshop on Conflict and Human Rights Advocacy in Nigeria. I have learned more advocacy tools and strategies to advance human rights in Nigeria and how social media can be a valuable tool for Human Right Advocacy.
“My takeaway was understanding that how I report conflict might either help the situation or escalate the conflict. I plan to use the knowledge I gained in this workshop to better upgrade the communication section in my organisation to create an equal and inclusive community for all,” Ms Adimula concluded.
At the end of the training, Akintunde Babatunde, the Deputy Director, Development Practice of the CJID said he is happy about the opportunity to link investigative journalism with human rights activism because of the need to ensure that impact is achieved when these two groups work on human right issues.
According to him, “We decided to train journalists and CSOs because of the centrality of their work in advancing fundamental human rights in Nigeria. We are hopeful that both groups will continue to hold power to account and ensure human rights violators are brought to book in Nigeria.”
The CSOs are expected to develop an advocacy strategy plan on human rights violations that will be supported by a grant of $750 each.
The Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) was founded in 2014 to help strengthen West Africa’s journalism sector to promote democratic accountability in the service of inclusive and sustainable development.