#defyhatenow Media Mentions

The Astute Ink : Media Leaders Join forces to combat hatespeech with a declaration

Media leaders join forces to combat hate speech with a declaration – The Astute Ink

by Fonban E. Lendzemo

Image: Etienene Mengnjo Mainimo.

A souvenir photo of officials present at the forum with media stakeholders

More than 60 stakeholders in Cameroon’s media landscape have jointly made a declaration after the Media Leader’s Forum 2023. The forum took place at the Monte Febe Hotel in Yaounde, Cameroon’s political capital, on Friday, April 28, 2023.

The forum was organized by the Rain Forest Center for Policy and Research in partnership with the Association Civic Watch and rOg/Agency for Open Culture and Critical Transformation. Uniting under the theme “Upholding Free Speech and Countering Hate Speech: Striking a Balance,” the promoter of Defy Hate Now is Ngala Desmond. Ngala said stakeholders are expected to engage in the fight against hate speech in their newsroom at the end of the seminar.

“We are looking at media leaders taking a synergy with us to fight and counter hate speech in Cameroon and globally. We have seen international partners here, and we hope that the synergy goes beyond media leaders to actually supporting these actions in all other domains,” he said.

The speakers at the forum were the German Ambassador to Cameroon, a representative of the Minister of Communication, renowned journalists, and some experts.

H.E Dr. Corinna FRICKE who is the German Ambassador to Cameroon, talking to the media after the opening segment of the all-day program, said the government of her country is committed to supporting such moves that end hate speech for reasons she stated: “It is important to have the right balance between freedoms of the press, which is the basis for democracy, and defying hate because hate on the internet or in the press cannot only destroy people or groups but it can split a society by extremism or ideology.”

Eugene Nforgwa is a media expert who was one of the speakers at the event. He believes there has been an increase in the use of hate speech, driven by a number of factors. “Most of the factors are around the social and political crises that the country is going through,” he said, citing the “lingering effects” of the 2018 presidential elections. “We have not only seen the resurgence in the use of hate speech; we have also seen the introduction of new forms of hate speech, and we are worried about the risk this poses to social cohesion, national unity, and the democratic process in our country,” he added, stating the central role of media leaders in creating an enabling environment for combating hate speech.

Comfort Musa, Viban Jude, and some journalists joined the panel in different segments as speakers addressing contemporary situations that were resourceful at the forum.

After talks that lasted several hours, media leaders came up with an 11-point declaration that could be celebrated as an achievement of stakeholders taking up an engagement to henceforth, combat hate speech everywhere they are.

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