The President of The West Africa Media Lawyers Association, WAMELA, Mr. Noah Ajare, has charged Heads of States of The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to make provisions for the unhindered and effective reportage of virtual Court Proceedings which many States in the sub-region have adopted in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Ajare gave this charge on the heels of ECOWAS Heads of State meeting in Niamey Niger and the Protocol on Virtual Court Proceedings as applicable to the Africa Court on Human and Peoples Rights, as well as the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
The WAMELA President cautioned ‘that the new initiative of virtual Court should not be an excuse to deprive the people and the Media of access to information and the right to report Court Proceedings which are basic hallmarks of Democracy. In his words ‘Necessary Protocols and measures should be provided to ensure that Virtual Court Proceedings are public and the media can access the proceedings and processes.
WAMELA welcomes the statements of the Nigeria Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo SAN on his support for media coverage of virtual Court proceedings in Nigeria and called on all other members’ states of ECOWAS to put facilities and processes in place to ensure increased access of its citizens and the media to the courts.
He congratulated the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo on his election as the Chairman of ECOWAS and urged him to further promote freedom of the press in the West African Sub region. WAMELA urged the new ECOWAS Chairman to use his new office to promote peace in the Sub region particularly the diplomatic row between Nigerian and Ghana.
WAMELA he said is committed to deepening of Democracy in the ECOWAS Sub-Region and called on the new government in Mali to respect the Freedom of The Media and release all persons held for alleged Media and Press related offences.