On the 8-9 May 2017, the International Symposium “Media Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, Reality of Violations and Challenges of Protection” took place in Khartoum, Corinthia Hotel. The Symposium was organized by Aljazeera Centre for Public Liberties and Human Rights in collaboration with the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, Sudanese Journalists Union (SJU) and Khartoum office of UNESCO, and linked to the celebration of the World Press Freedom Day (WFPD) in Sudan. The Minister of Information, Dr. Ahmed Bilal Osman, honored the event.
Starting the discussions, Dr. Aiman Badri from the UNESCO Khartoum office delivered the message of H.E. Ms. Irina Bokova, the General Director of UNESCO, on the occasion of the WPFD 2017. He welcomed the Minister of Information, Aljazeera Media Network, chief editors of newspapers and other media, representatives of the political parties and other participants. He expressed his appreciation to Aljazeera Centre for Public Liberties and Human Rights for organizing the Symposium. Dr. Badri informed the audience about other event on occasion of commemoration of WPFD, which took place on 3 May 2017 in the Ministry of Information, and invited the participants to join actively the celebration of WPFD next year. He overviewed the activities of the UNESCO Khartoum office in the Media Development direction, grouped as “Community Radio Development in Sudan”, “Empowering Women in Sudanese Media” and “Safety of Sudanese Journalists”. He thanked UNESCO’s national and international partners for their efforts in supporting the journalism and media sector in Sudan.
Mr. Alsdiq Alrezagie, the General Director of Sudanese Journalists Union (SJU), highlighted the contribution of the press and journalism freedom to the stability of the communities and the society in general. He underlined, that the promotion of the Press Freedom is one of the main objectives of the SJU, and exposed the readiness of the Union to collaborate with Aljazeera Centre and other partners to achieve this target.
After welcoming the Minister and the other participants, Dr. Alan, the Deputy Director of the United Nations Training and Documentation Center in Human Rights for Southwest Asia and the Arab Region, delivered the regards of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. He said that the Freedom of Press and Expression represents the corner stone of the democratic communities, ant this is why it in the heart of the Center’s work.
Mr. Sami Alhaj, the Director of Aljazeera Centre for Public Liberties and Human Rights, attracted the attention of the participants to the stature of journalism at the global level, which is experiencing a high level of violence of different nature – up to assassination. Aljazeera Centre and its partners are active agents of changes in the direction of safe journalism: “It is time to feel safe while we implement our mission”.
H.E. Dr. Ahmed Bilal Osman, the Minister of Information, stated his pleasure of having a broad partnership with Sudanese journalists. He highlighted, that press is a genuine partner in the national dialogue and an observer for what have been said and what have been done. In the end, the Minister highly appreciated the Aljazeera media network for its professionalism and for its role in the Arab region.
Dr. Mustafa Alsawaq, the Director of Aljazeera Media Group, overviewed the status of the press in the Arab region. He said that without press freedom we can’t talk about community development, and reminded about importance of struggling for more freedom for media. He asked the participants to sign Aljazeera’s document for solidarity with the arbitrarily detained journalists, aiming to mobilize people of the World for ending impunity for crimes against journalists.
Dr. Ghazi Salah Eldien, the former Minister of Information and former Adviser to the President of Sudan on Peace Affairs, discussed the importance of sharing the complete facts without cuts and distortion trying correctly present the reality. He proposed to think about penalties for sharing so called fake-news. He also underlined that the freedom of information includes the accessibility to information.
Mr. Shonn from the International Press Institute thanked the Journalist Union for inviting him, he briefed the participants about the role of the Institute in supporting journalists all over around the World since its establishment in 1971. He presented lessons learned about Freedom of Press and Journalist Safety based on experience of different African countries.
Representatives of the Journalist Ethics Network, African Journalism Initiative and International Committee of the Red Cross also delivered their presentations.
The selective participants of the workshop enriched the discussion by adding valuable comments, such as Dr. Mariam Alsadig, the representative of Aloma party, who stressed on the need for concrete laws to protect the Freedom of Media in Sudan. Dr. Khadija Alfadil, the Counselor in the Ministry of Justice, attracted attention of the participants to the role of media in awareness raising about human rights Dr. Muna Abu Alazaiem, the journalist, called for adapting the existing international declarations to the Sudanese reality. The chief editors of several Sudanese newspapers and other participants of the Symposium also contributed to the discussion.