Chizuma: Report on the issues without breaking the law – File Photo

Lilongwe, July 13, 2019: Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has singled out lack of in-depth knowledge on human rights among media practitioners as a factor failing deeper analysis of the issues by journalists in the country.

MHRC said such media reports also end up undermining and infringing on other people’s rights. The situation is attributed to, among other reasons, inadequate knowledge on human rights issues among some media practitioners, which also results in portraying a negative picture about some individuals or groups.

Speaking on Friday in Lilongwe when she opened a day’s training session for media practitioners from various media houses across the country, MHRC Commissioner Martha Chizuma said her institution invited the journalists to address such gaps.

“The reason why we have invited the media for a human-rights training is simply to equip them with knowledge and skills on human rights so they can report in a manner that is effective and that does not infringe on other people’s rights.
“As you may be aware, MHRC has mandate to protect and promote human rights, and the commission cannot do that on its own without partners. The media practitioners are a very crucial partner in this regard,” she said.

While upholding the media for informing people about human rights and empowering them to report violations of the same, Chizuma advised the practitioners to report on the issues without breaking the law.

“Related to that is the role the media has now been playing, which is not only stating facts but also analyzing those facts and commenting on those facts,” she added.

Such media role informs reactions and actions that can be taken into the national agenda programme, according to Chizuma who is also the country’s Ombudsman.

She explained that MHRC has a big task of handling human rights issues whose fulfillment requires the partnership of a knowledgeable media, hence the training.

Asked on the gaps noticed in media reports regarding human rights issues, she cited lack of deeper analysis of the issues and sensationalisation of the same.

She said if there are such elements in the media reports the substance of the issue at hand is lost, which affects the human rights discourse in the country.

After that training, the media practitioners are expected to be better equipped so that they go beyond sensationalisation in their reporting on human rights to correct violations if there are any.

Some of the topics tackled during the training included Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals; Knowing the Gender Equality Act; Knowing the Access to Information Act and  Mandate, Functions and Duties of MHRC.

The training was funded by European Union (EU) through Chilungamo (Justice and Accountability) Programme.

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