Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Africa: Sept '07

ICC press association and the UN’s ReliefWeb commend IWPR’s intern programme and reporting output.
By IWPR staff

Last month, IWPR’s Hague office welcomed our first African intern, Samuel Egadu Okiror, who spent five weeks with us learning about and reporting on the ICC and international justice.

Samuel is the bureau chief for the Daily Monitor newspaper in Gulu, northern Uganda, where the 20-year conflict between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA, makes justice - both domestic and international - a topic of great interest for many of his readers.

During his time in The Hague, he took full advantage of the opportunity to speak to senior ICC officials – including the head of ICC investigations Beatrice Le Frapper du Hellen – he wouldn’t normally contact when reporting at home.

He also made new international justice contacts with groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Centre for Transitional Justice. We think this will serve him well back in Gulu, where the ICC and whether it is an obstacle to peace are much debated in the local press.

He left the Netherlands with a new appreciation for the workings of the court and some of the debate and discussion that surrounds it in Europe.

That is one of the purposes of IWPR’s Hague internship programme - to expand international justice reporting capacity in regions where journalists have little or no knowledge about the court.

We’re committed to bringing a regular supply of journalists to The Hague from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. Our next intern will come later in October from Darfur in Sudan.

Geraldine Coughlan, a journalist with the BBC and president of the Association of Journalists from the ICC, said the AJICC welcomes the IWPR initiative to mentor the African journalists, describing it “as a positive contribution to international justice”.

“Visiting journalists, such as those already in The Hague, need time to adjust to the ICC setting and they need support. It is imperative that these journalists are able to send quality, reliable reports back to their home countries,” said Coughlan.

“In that respect, the thorough factual coverage provided by IWPR gives them a solid starting point. With moral support from [IWPR] on top of that, the overall standard of reporting at the ICC will improve - giving audiences in Africa, as well as the rest of the world, a balanced picture of proceedings in court."

This month, several IWPR Africa features were republished by influential online media.

Thirteen IWPR Africa stories were run on ReliefWeb - an organisation administered by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA.

Samuel Hendricks of ReliefWeb, which gathers and publishes information on humanitarian emergencies and disasters, said IWPR’s work was “very relevant” for his organisation and cited the “independence” of its reporting.

“We really like what IWPR is doing and look for opportunities to use the material,” he said. “We look actively for information from IWPR because of its strong reporting and high quality and it’s very relevant for the type of information that we are consolidating and organising [on our site].”

Another article republished this month was Mugabe Row Endangers EU-Africa Summit by Joseph Sithole in Harare from September 20, which ran on the site of Zurich-based International Relations and Security Network, ISN.

This piece reported that plans for a European Union-Africa summit scheduled for December had been put at risk by a conflict over whether President Robert Mugabe will be allowed to attend as Zimbabwe's official representative.

Some EU nations had threatened to boycott the Lisbon summit if he was invited, while a number of African governments warned that they would not send representatives if Mugabe was excluded.

“I chose the piece because it did a good job of highlighting the points from both sides of the argument without heavy handedness,” said Rashunda Tramble, ISN Copy Editor.

She added that the article successfully conveyed the divide that one man is causing and how this affects collaboration on aid and development.

“Finally, I like Sithole's writing. He's a straight reporter and I'm drawn to that,” she said.

The piece was also picked up by several other sites including that of the Kinshasa Times and the NewYork-based political website the Huffington Post.

Another feature which was widely republished was Ugandan Opposition to Visit LRA Lair by Samuel Okiror Egadu in Kampala.

This was featured in the digest of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, CICC - a global network of NGOs working as a watchdog for the new world court.

Anaga Dalal of the CICC told IWPR that the digests are sent out “to reflect the most important and significant coverage on a particular situation country, or topic”.

The piece was also included on the site of a Geneva-based international lawyers' group, TRIAL, which campaigns for political leaders accused of genocide and other crimes against humanity to be brought to justice.

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