19th May 2017
By Tom Law

Combating Hate and Building Trust in Media in Sudan

The Ethical Journalism Network participated in a workshop for journalists, editors and media professionals in Khartoum, Sudan, on 8-10 May 2017 to discuss hate speech and media ethics in Sudan.

Press freedom is integral to the building of free, just and democratic societies, the EJN’s Tom Law told the meeting, calling for Sudanese media to recognised that hate speech against migrants, ethnic and religious groups is becoming an increasing issue in Sudan.

Following the EJN’s workshop on hate speech participants agreed that:

  • hate speech, particularly against women, migrants and minorities, should always be exposed by the media, while promoting the values of ethical journalism as in inspiration for free expression and media literacy,
  • editorial stereotypes and media adopting dominant political narratives by populist leaders can create a wholly inaccurate image of some members of society
  • media neglect of discrimination against migrants and minorities may reinforce these attitudes and that failure to cover diversity and in an ethical way erodes trust with audiences
  • media and journalists can play a positive role in holding governments and others to account and that media can put forward solutions and opportunities to the problems facing the region
  • media owners and editors should provide the resources and space for journalists to report independently and to expose hate speech

The journalists attending the event declared their support for the Ethical Journalism Network’s Turning the Page of Hate campaign and guidelines on migration coverage, and called on all journalists and media leaders to practice ethical, tolerant and inclusive journalism and to promote editorial action that will enable journalists to pursue insightful coverage of politics, development, conflicts, migration with the independence, humanity, impartiality and accuracy that the ethics of journalism demand.

Having considered the problems facing journalists and media in Sudan the journalists further urge all media professional groups – press owners, editors, journalists, broadcasters and online media – to work together in support of this campaign.

The Ethical Journalism Network proposed a series of follow-up actions and recommendations from the meeting:

  1. Training and Newsroom Standards:

Sudanese journalists need to be empowered to have confidence to cover the issues of diversity, addressing the issues of hate speech:

  • EJN’s training modules on reporting migration, hate speech and media ethics to be shared and used by media organisations and journalism training institutions schools colleges.
  • Training and capacity building of journalists to help them understand the national and international legal framework and definitions of migration and hate speech by creating a glossary on hate speech in Sudan.
  • Support for journalists who cover sensitive stories especially when covering diversity as well as disputes and conflicts between communities, and are mindful of damage they may cause
  1. Improving Working Conditions

All media partners should work to create safe and secure conditions for the exercise of journalism.

  1. Special protection on human rights

All partners should work to strengthen human rights reporting in Sudan through co-operation between journalists and all stakeholders.

The event was organised by the Al Jazeera Public Liberties and Human Rights Centre, The Sudanese Union of Journalists, with the United Nations Office of Human Rights. The African Media Institute and International Press Institute also participated in the event.

The EJN hopes to broaden the turning the page of hate campaign through further co-operation with media groups across to exchange information and work together to combat hate speech in media, improve coverage of migration and to use the ethics of journalism as an inspiration for free expression and media ethics.

As part of the visit, the EJN was able to meet with both Vice Presidents of the Republic of Sudan and urged the government to give media the space to regulate themselves and refrain from interfering in the practice of journalism. Sudan was ranked 174 out of 180 countries in the 2017 press freedom index launched by Reporters Without Borders.