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

International Justice/ICC: Jun ‘08

Field trips help to develop new training initiatives in Sudan and deliver training workshops in northern Uganda and Congo.
By IWPR staff
International justice reporting/training staff in The Hague are to begin work on an Arabic language training manual focusing on basic journalism skills, following a fact-finding trip to Sudan.

Lisa Clifford and Katy Glassborow traveled to Khartoum in early June as part of a needs-assessment exercise, in advance of a training programme tentatively scheduled for November.

The two international justice reporters met a number of media personnel and NGOs during the week-long trip, with the consultation suggesting very strongly that local journalists and their editors are hungry for skills-based training.

Dr Muheddin Titawi, Chairman of the Journalists Union, told the journalists, "We have different values in the Islamic world, but want to learn how to be accurate and fair and use new technologies.”

Professor Ali Shumo, head of the National Press Council which sponsored the visit, welcomed IWPR’s involvement and said that its training could help to address the culture of copying and pasting from the internet.

The editor of a Khartoum-based newspaper said that current training provision is limited in scope, “It is too theoretical. We lack the practical, professional way of handling the job, and the ethical concepts of journalism."

A Sudanese NGO worker said that journalists need to learn how to be more balanced in their reporting “so that dialogue can take place without provoking the authorities. Journalism needs to go back to fundamentals, putting aside affiliations”, he said.

Following the trip, IWPR staff in The Hague will start work on an Arabic-language training manual, focusing on basic journalism skills – which will be presented at a training event being planned for later this year.

“Our week in Khartoum helped us to understand more fully the media scene in Sudan. Because we spoke to a wide range of people, from fledgling journalists to established editors, we became aware that whilst Sudanese journalists do receive training at university, it is mainly theoretical,” said Glassborow.

“Spending time with editors and reporters made us aware that our training should focus on the practical application of the basic principles of journalism - like how to research background issues, conduct interviews and balance a story.

“Taking into account the ideas of those we met, who were able to explain the realities of working as a journalist in Sudan, we will write an Arabic-language training course and associated handbook, and return to Khartoum in November to deliver some of its modules.”

Also in June, Africa Editor Peter Eichstaedt traveled to Uganda and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo where he conducted two training sessions.

From June 9 to 13, Eichstaedt met six reporters in northern Uganda and held an informal workshop in investigative reporting techniques. The training was in preparation for an investigative reporting project concerned with the reconstruction and redevelopment of northern Uganda in the wake of the country’s 20-year war with the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA.

In Lira, Eichstaedt held a workshop for IWPR trainee reporters Joe Wacha, Julius Ocen, Bill Oketch and Patrick Okino, who are regular contributors to the international justice/ICC output. After the training session, Eichstaedt accompanied reporters Ocen and Wacha on a reporting trip to several villages in the Lira area where they interviewed villagers about the recently collapsed peace talks between the LRA and Uganda.

In Gulu, Eichstaedt met IWPR-trained reporters Columbus Onoo and Caroline Ayugi for a similar workshop. Eichstaedt also accompanied Onoo and Ayugi, who was an intern with IWPR in The Hague in May, on a reporting trip to communities north of Gulu, which also canvassed opinions on the failed peace talks.

From June 14 to 27, Eichstaedt was in eastern DRC. He conducted a training session on international justice and the International Criminal Court for eight radio and print reporters in Bunia, the major town in the troubled Ituri region, on Friday and Saturday, June 20 and 21.

The training was scheduled to coincide with the ICC trial of former militia leader Thomas Lubanga, which was subsequently postponed, as well a confirmation of charges hearing before the ICC of militia leaders Germain Katanga and Matthieu Ndjugolo.

Training session participants came from Bunia as well as several surrounding towns, including Mambasa, about 50 kilometres west of Buania; and Kisenyi, which is east and on the shores of Lake Albert.

Richard Pituwa, the director of Canal Revelation in Bunia, helped to organise the training session, conducted in the Bunia Public Library. Jacques Kahorha, IWPR’s Goma-trainee, was the interpreter.

“Until IWPR brought its expertise on the ICC and international justice to these Bunia journalists, they had never been provided with an in-depth explanation of the origins of the court, and why and how it functions. Such knowledge is vital to the ability to report accurately on the court and it proceedings in the coming months and years as indictees come to trial,” said Eichstaedt.

In addition, Eichstaedt accompanied Kahorha on various reporting trips, including one to the village of Bogoro, about 25 km from Bunia, which was the scene of a massacre for which Katanga has been charged by the ICC. Kahorha and Eichstaedt interviewed a dozen villagers.

Eichstaedt and Kahorha also traveled to the town of Dungu and Doruma in the Haut Uele district, which has been particularly hard hit by the LRA, based in DRC’s Garamba National Park for more than two years. The LRA has recently conducted a number of raids on villages in the area and had abducted several hundred people, including men, women, and young boys and girls who are conscripted in the militia as fighters and sex slaves.

In Goma, Kahorha and Eichstaedt reported on the peace talks in North Kivu, which appear to be unraveling, and conducted numerous interviews with victims of sexual violence as well as key actors in the NGO and civil society sectors working to solve the problem. These interviews will become part of special reports that are being prepared by IWPR on sexual violence in the DRC as well as a series of special radio reports on the ICC in eastern DRC that will be broadcast through the DRC.

Eichstaedt also worked in Goma with IWPR trainee Taylor Toeka Kakala to develop a number of future stories on security issues in the troubled North Kivu province.