The Federal Government is partnering with the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), in the fight against fake news. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed stated this at the 39th session of the General Conference of the UNESCO in Paris.

 

Mohammed emphasized that Journalists must be protected and given the freedom to do their work without any hindrance.

 

The Minister spoke on UNESCO’s Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. He added that the Federal Government would never embark on impunity against Journalists saying the body should consider the menace of fake news and misrepresentation in the media.

 

“Fake news and misrepresentations, while they may not directly take lives, the consequences are also grave.

 

“We therefore want the UNESCO to lend its considerable weight in the fight against fake news”.

 

UNESCO’s Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity

The United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity was endorsed by the UN Chief Executives Board on 12 April 2012.

 

UNESCO is the mandated agency within the UN that promotes freedom of expression and of the press. Therefore, it has taken the lead in coordinating the development and implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

 

The Plan of Action aims at creating a free and safe environment for Journalists and media workers, both in conflict and non-conflict situations, with a view to strengthening peace, democracy and development worldwide.

 

It is coordinated by an inter-agency mechanism, whose responsibility is to handle issues related to the safety of Journalists, as well as assist countries develop legislation and mechanisms favourable to freedom of expression and information, and support efforts to implement international rules and principles.

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UNESCO seeks to expand its cooperation with donors and partners in improving Journalists’ safety in the context of the Implementation Strategy of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

 

Reports shows that in 2016, 259 Journalists were jailed, 81 in Turkey, 38 in China and two in Nigeria. Presently, 56 Journalists have been killed including media workers with the highest number of 14 going to Mexico. About 55 Journalists are missing worldwide.

 

Fake News

In February 2017, the Minister of Information and Culture said the phenomenon of fake news, if left unchecked, poses more threat to the nation than insurgency and militancy.

 

“Regrettably, fake news is circulated worldwide through the means of the social media and it travels faster. Only recently, have we been able to refute the fake news that Nigeria today is the most difficult place for Christians to live.

 

“There was also the fake report that the Armed Forces of Nigeria armed the Fulani herdsmen and instigate them to carry out attacks. All these news are unfounded, fake and has the capacity to set one religion or group against the other”.

 

In July, Lai Mohammed said that the Federal Government has strengthened the capacity of its Information Officers to tackle the menace of fake news with fact-based counter-narrative.

 

”Faced with the prevalence of fake news, we took action by preparing Information Officers with the skills to identify and counter such fake news through engagement and counter narrative”.

 

Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina in October said fake news is an epidemic in Nigeria emphasizing that if there is anything to worry about, it is fake news.

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“But it is not just the purveyors of fake news that should be sanctioned, even the consumers of it are guilty because statistics have shown that the world consumes fake news more than true news. I saw those statistics online while doing a research.

 

“And closely linked to fake news is hate news. Hate news is that piece of information that is meant to cause odium, discord and know that there are some people who do it almost professionally.

 

“People love to either convey fake news or twist what has been said. Their intention is to cause disharmony in the country and we have to watch it”.

 

In a survey carried out in 2016 in the United States by Pew Research Centre, 23% of people admitted to have deliberately shared a fake political news story online, it is clear that these fake news story will continue to gain traction as long as people are still willing to share them online.

 

It also showed that 70% of Editors, CEOs, and Digital Leaders operating online news media stated that the distribution of fake news would strengthen the position of their company.

 

In a survey carried out in 2016 in the United States by Pew Research Centre, 23% of people admitted to have deliberately shared a fake political news story online, it is clear that these fake news story will continue to gain traction as long as people are still willing to share them online.

 

It also showed that 70% of Editors, CEOs, and Digital Leaders operating online news media stated that the distribution of fake news would strengthen the position of their company.

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On culture, the Minister mentioned that there was the need to invest in public enlightenment as well as advocacy for people to take credit for their cultural artefacts.

 

He added that a country without artefacts is without history and a country without history is likely not to progress.

 

“Because of poverty, many of our people sell off and conspire with those who are stealing artefacts”.

 

Mohammed lauded UNESCO for amending the 1970 convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property.

 

1970 UNESCO Convention

The 1970 UNESCO convention aims at protecting cultural property against theft and looting while emphasizing the restitution of such items.

 

It seeks to assist member States take preventive measures, such as export certificates, monitoring of trade and imposition of sanctions among others, in order to hinder illicit import and export of cultural property from their territory.

 

The convention also aims at helping States provide restitution provisions such as taking appropriate steps to recover and return cultural property illicitly stolen from the territory of another State party.

 

Innocent purchasers and persons with valid claims to such cultural property are entitled to compensation, and restitution requests are made through diplomatic means.

ETN24 is in the business of fighting fake and sensational News. Our belief is that if News can educate it should not agitate. Fake Checks, Media Reviews, and everyday event. You learn and know what is happening, with one stone.

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