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UN-Backed Meeting Calls for West Africa Investigative Reporting Center

UNODC WkshpJournalists from 14 countries in West Africa have called for creation of a regional Centre for Investigative Journalism and for African media to use investigative techniques to expose corruption and illicit trafficking, which they say are impeding human development and worsening security. The declaration came after a one-week conference organized by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Other participating organizations included GIJN members African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), as well as UNESCO and the Panos Institute West Africa.

Here is the full declaration:

Saly Declaration — Senegal

The participants at the regional workshop on the investigation and reporting of corruption and organized crime in the Sahel

From 24 to 27 November 2014, investigative journalists from 14 countries in West and Central Africa, as well as journalists from Latin America and Europe, met in Saly, Senegal, at a regional workshop on the investigation and reporting of corruption and organized crime in the Sahel.

Supported by the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Panos Institute West Africa (PIWA), the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the workshop aimed to (1) raise awareness among journalists of
the region about the disastrous effects of corruption and illicit trafficking on human development and security; (2) share knowledge and experiences among participants on investigative techniques to expose corruption and illicit trafficking; (3) examine the possibilities of collaborative networks between investigative journalists from West and Central Africa, Latin America and Europe.

Aware of the scale of corruption and organized crime in the Sahel region, including its adverse effects on human development and security;

Recognizing the continuing impunity for these crimes and the lack of satisfactory action of institutions mandated to fight against these phenomena;

Aware of the threats of criminal prosecution and physical insecurity faced by investigative journalists in the performance of their work in the region;

Taking note of the establishment of the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) in the course of 2014;

Recalling Article 13 of the UN Convention against Corruption, which provides that “Each State Party shall take appropriate measures to promote the active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector […] This participation should be strengthened by such measures to respect, promote and protect the freedom to seek, receive, publish and disseminate information concerning corruption.”;

Recalling Article 5 of the Convention of the African Union by which States Parties undertake to “adopt such legislative and other measures to protect informants and witnesses in cases of corruption and related offenses, including their identity” and to “adopt measures to ensure that citizens report instances of corruption without fear of consequent reprisals “;

Recalling the UNESCO guidelines on access to information adopted in 2004 in Paris;Participants in the workshop:

1. Encourage journalists and media in the region to practice more investigation and go beyond mere revelations;

2. Encourage journalists and media in the region to establish local structures for this purpose;

3. Encourage journalists and media to use new technologies to network in and beyond the region and develop a database for press articles on corruption and organized crime;

4. Encourage journalists and media to implement platforms for citizens to report acts of corruption and organized crime;

5. Invite the media to always exercise good judgment and responsibility in carrying out their investigations;

6. Recommend the creation of a Centre for Investigative Journalism to promote the continuous strengthening of capacities of journalists in the region in this regard;

7. Encourage investigative journalists to strengthen their collaboration with anti-corruption authorities and anti-organized crime institutions in the region;

8. Urge their governments to promote access to information through the adoption of appropriate legislation;

9. Encourage governments of the region to take the necessary steps to decriminalize press offenses and to ensure the physical protection of investigative journalists;

10. Encourage governments to adopt appropriate measures, including legislation, to protect witnesses and whistle-blowers;

11. Invite journalists in the region to disseminate this declaration in their publications, their organizations and their networks;

12. Express their appreciation to the organizers of the meeting, including, UNODC, UNESCO, PIWA, ANCIR, OCCRP and call on them, and on all other partners, to continue their support for the actions outlined above.

Done in Saly, November 27, 2014

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