Adopt laws to protect journalists against abusive lawsuits, NGE tells FG

2024-05-03 21:07:54

New Mail Nigeria

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has implored the federal government to adopt laws that will protect journalists against abusive lawsuits.

The NGE made the call on Friday in a statement signed by Eze Anaba, its president; and Iyobosa Uwugiaren, its general secretary; to mark this year's World Press Freedom Day.

World Press Freedom Day is observed annually on May 3 to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom throughout the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The editors said journalism and freedom of expression help in raising public awareness about environmental issues; amplify marginalised voices; promote transparency and accountability; and provide a platform for solutions.

They said there an urgent need by the government to take deliberate and sustained action to promote press freedom and good journalism in the country.

"The federal government will fundamentally be promoting the enabling environment for media to operate responsibly if it adopts a law to protect persons who speak out on matters of public interest against abusive lawsuits meant to silence them," the statement reads.

"The federal government should take a cue from the European Union and other democracies around the world, who have adopted similar laws to protect journalists and media houses against Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP suit).

"More so, there are still many obnoxious and anti-media laws in our statutory books that are targeted at journalists and media houses. The National Assembly (NASS) must take immediate step to repeal them."

The NGE also urged government at all levels, international organisations and civil society organisation to protect and promote press freedom; ensure safety and security for journalists; and ensure that all restrictive laws targeted at the media are repealed.

"We celebrate the courageousness and commitment of journalists across the country, who continue to risk everything to bring us the truth and reliable/credible information," the statement reads.

"We also acknowledge the growing threats to press freedom -- from violence and censorship to disinformation and economic pressures.

"We pay tribute to the journalists who have lost their lives or faced persecution, and we stand in solidarity with those under threat or attack and those who continue to work under very harsh economic conditions."

2024-05-03 News