Rila Press Office

Delegates from Seychelles and Across Africa Gather in Johannesberg for Conference on Media Freedom

 
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London, England -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/24/2011 -- Three Seychelles’ media professionals have this week returned from a two day conference focusing on the role and responsibilities of Africa’s media at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, organised and supported by the British and Canadian High Commissions in Pretoria and the British High Commission in Seychelles.

Ibrahim Afif, Chair of the Seychelles Media Commission, Jean Claude Matombe also a Media Commission member and PR Officer for the National Council for Children and Nada Francourt, Press Officer at the Office of the President joined delegates, including government representatives, editors, regulators and members of civil society from 13 other African countries.

Themes discussed over the two days, included; the right to know and access to information, models of regulation, issues in self-regulation, transformation and democratization in the media, the role of government and civil society and mechanisms of accountability, highlighted by examples from countries as diverse as the UK, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, Canada and Nigeria, bringing the issues to life and facilitating discussion and analysis.

The keynote speech delivered by former Constitutional Court Judge, Kate O Regan, highlighted the importance of Freedom of Expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the role of the media ‘to be conscientious and scrupulous in exercising that freedom fairly and to be fierce in defending it against improper diminution’.

Seychelles Media Commission Chair, Ibrahim Afif commenting on his participation in the conference said:

"This workshop came at a very opportune moment as the newly-created Seychelles Media Commission is getting off the ground. It was thought provoking and helped develop important contacts; already I’m looking at inviting two of the key presenters at the conference to Seychelles, to facilitate workshops that we intend to run on the drafting of the Journalists' Code of Conduct. This will involve the participation of local editors and publishers and the event in South Africa provided us an excellent opportunity to identify relevant persons who could assist us directly."

Seychelles’ British High Commissioner, Matthew Forbes added that:
‘It was important we took advantage of the opportunity offered by our colleagues at the British and Canadian High Commissions in Pretoria to send delegates from Seychelles as media freedom and the responsible exercise of the rights that come with that freedom is the backbone of open and democratically accountable countries’.
As well as producing a short report for the British High Commission outlining the benefits of attending the conference, the delegates from Seychelles also contributed to the ‘Wits Declaration’ that formalises the issues discussed during the two days and will be a reference and resource for participants to inform their day to day work in the media.