SiLNoRF & CoMNeT End 2-Day Right to Food Training for Journalists

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By Foday Moriba Conteh

On Tuesday 4th August 2020 the Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (SiLNoRF), in partnership with the Community Media Network (CoMNeT) and Welt Hunger Hilfe (WHH) ended a two-day training workshop for 10 media practitioners in the Western Urban and Rural Areas of Freetown at the Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) Hall on Black Hall Road, Waterloo.

The project is titled, “Promotion of the Right to Food Project in Sierra Leone – SLE 1069-19.”

The aim of the training was to sensitize the media about various issues relating to the Right to Food (RtF) so that at the end of the training journalists will better understand the concept of violation of the right to adequate food as well as identify possible recourse mechanisms.

Some of the topics covered during the training included Introduction to Human Rights, Human Right-Based Approach to Development, The Concept of the Right to Adequate Food, Rights and Obligations, History of the Right to Adequate Food, the Right to Food Guidelines, the Right to Adequate Food in Practice and to Establish a Regional Right to Food Advocacy Platform.

In his introduction, one of the facilitators, Mr. Abdulai Kamara of SiLNoRF enlightened that the 38 months pilot project is for the RtF to become law/justiciable, that similar trainings have been conducted for civil society and the media in Kenema, Bo, Port Loko, Makeni and the Western Area revealing that they plan to capacitate 120 journalists nationwide on the need to enact the Right to Food Law.

He continued that the human right to adequate food is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other international conventions such as the African Charter of Human Rights. He affirmed that the RtF is when everyone has access to adequate food at all times which means that people must either have resources to produce enough food such as their own land or livestock or an income that is sufficient to purchase healthy food adding that for the signatory States, the treaties are binding international law.

He went on to reveal that the signatory States have the responsibility to respect the right to food, i.e. not to deny anyone access to food, to protect the right to food, i.e. to create laws and mechanisms that prevent violations by third parties and to guarantee the right to food, i.e. to actively work for people to be able to feed themselves by for example providing agricultural advisory services for small farmers or setting up social security programs.

Mr. Kamara further underscored that States have a special obligation towards vulnerable groups such as children, women, the sick, physically challenged, the elderly, the landless and the poor reiterating that States are called upon to implement the human rights principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination, transparency, human dignity and the rule of law affirming, “people must be given the information to enable them participate in food security policy decisions that affect them. They must also be enabled to have decisions that could jeopardize their rights reviewed by means of legal remedies.”

Another facilitator, Mr. Frank Webber, in his Powerpoint presentation, articulated that civil society organisations in Serra Leone have observed high rates of food insecurity due to, among others, large land acquisitions, for which a movement has been formed to advocate the incorporation of the Right to Food into the legislation and policy of Sierra Leone disclosing that the country’s 1991 constitution as well as its laws and policies in force at the time made no explicit reference to the human right to adequate food.

According to Mr. Webber, a deeper awareness of the Right to Food would help agents of accountability to communicate in a more informed manner and aid them in comprehending the importance of keeping rights-holders duly informed in a timely fashion and through the appropriate channels underlining that agents of accountability can play a very important role if they become actively involved with rights-holders to enhance their organisation for the defence and promotion of  their rights and work with duty-bearers to create an enabling environment for the realization of this right.

He also underlined that effective training can help these agents to organize their work, bolstering the motivation that they normally have with the technical expertise needed to act, with the highest level of professionalism and effectiveness, in the complex sphere of human rights in such varied fields as law, policy, programs and projects as well as public budgets among others.

Mr. Webber further recalled 1996 when Sierra Leone ratified the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which recognized the right to adequate food in Article 11 and bound the Government to is obligations under the Convention highlighting that Article 11 (2) of the Convention states that recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be protected from hunger, State Parties, individually and through international cooperation, shall implement the necessary measures, including specific programs, to (a) improve methods of nutritional principles and by developing or reforming agricultural systems with the aim of developing and utilizing natural resources as effectively as possible.

The question and answer and group work sessions and the distribution of reference materials climaxed the highly interactive training.

 

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