By Enock Balakasi
Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) says 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.
Speaking on Friday in the Capital 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.
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.
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.
Chizuma who is also the country’s Ombudsman 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.
One of the participants, Nancy Malaya from Timveni radio applauded MHRC for taking such initiative attributing that skills obtained from the training will gear them up to combat the devastating cases hitting Malawi nation.
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.