By Foday Moriba Conteh
In a bid to capacitate media practitioners in West Africa to understand the forms and approaches of transitional justice and the angles to report on them, the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG), with support from the Africa Transitional Justice Legacy Fund, has on Friday 29th July 2022 launched the Transitional Justice Manual to serve as a resource guide for journalists, CSOs and researchers working on Transitional Justice in West Africa. The official launch was held at the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists Hall on Campbell Street in Freetown.
Speaking during the launch, the National Coordinator of Media Reform Coordinating Group, Dr. Francis Sowa revealed that the Transitional Justice Manual is part of a project titled, “Engaging the Media to Change the Narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) Issues in Sierra Leone,” and that the project is implemented by the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) with support from the Africa Transitional Justice Legacy Fund (ATJLF).
He maintained that the idea about transitional justice reporting started at the end of the conflict in which media practitioners reported on stories basically dealing with the country’s transition from conflict to peace, furthering that reporting on transitional justice occurs mainly after instances of civil conflict, war and human rights abuses.
Dr. Francis Sowa pointed out that the major focus of the project is to work with media institutions and practitioners to engage in coverage and reportage on transitional justice mechanisms thereby increasing public awareness and following up on commitments and actions on Transitional Justice issues.
He maintained that the Handbook is to serve as a toolkit for media practitioners in West Africa to understand the forms and approaches of transitional justice, and the angles and frames of reporting on them.
“It is the hope of the MRCG that media practitioners in West Africa will use the manual to hone their skills in reporting on transitional justice. While the Handbook is produced primarily for media practitioners, trainers and advocates on TJ issues will also find it very useful and helpful,” he disclosed.
The National Coordinator pointed out that the role of the Media Reform Coordinating Group is to engage the media to change the narrative on transitional justice reporting, stating that transitional justice reporting is not the type of reporting that should stop only at the time the war ended in the country but said even in time of peace it must be noted that we must keep reminding ourselves about the things that took the country to civil war.
Giving a testimony, one of the mentees of the 2020 Transitional Justice Mentorship Programme, Ishmael Sallieu Koroma, expressed appreciation to the Media Reform Coordinating Group and the Africa Transitional Justice Legacy Fund for creating the platform for him during his 2020 Transitional Justice Mentorship Programme which he described as an eye-opener towards Transitional Justice issues.
He pointed out that during the process of reporting the stories he realized that many of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Report have not been implemented by the Government of Sierra Leone.
Ishmael Sallieu Koroma disclosed that the 2020 Transitional Justice Mentorship Programme serves as platform for him towards improving his skills in transitional justice reporting.
Launching the manual, the Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Alhaji Manika Kamara commended the Media Reform Coordinating Group for the laudable venture towards putting together the manual which, he said, will capacitate media practitioners in West Africa to understand the forms and approaches of transitional justice.
He said that the Association, over the years, has been encouraging journalists to specialize in various areas and one of them is Transitional Justice reporting owing to the fact that the issue of transitional justice still occurs in the country, adding that it is the responsibility of journalists to remind the Government about those issues in our society.
The Secretary General encouraged journalists to make good use of the Transitional Justice Manual which will serve as a resource guide for journalists, CSOs and researchers working on Transitional Justice not only in Sierra Leone but West Africa as a whole.