ECOWAS Ministers of Information and communication at the end of a two-day Ministerial Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, adopted three important documents intended to widen press freedom and free expression in the sub-region.
According to a Ministry of Information dispatch from Abuja, Nigeria, the documents adopted are the Revised ECOWAS Commission Communication Policy and Strategy, the Norms and Standards for the Media in the Promotion of Peace and Security in West Africa, and the Supplementary Act on the Legal Framework on the Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information with amendments.
The Ministers also considered and adopted a report of the meeting of experts, including additional recommendations, but said that aspect relating to the establishment of a Communication Commission should be subjected to further studies and realignment.
The experts in their meeting recommended that ECOWAS create a Communications Commission to deal with policy issues as well as a Community Communication Coordination bureau, which shall be an independent body vested with inter-institutional competencies.
The ECOWAS Communication Policy and Strategy is a broad, forward-looking, inclusive, rights-based, medium-term communication policy that seeks to deliver on the mandates for promoting regional integration. The Strategy is structured around four axes: Information; visibility and advocacy; capacitation and participation.
The Ministerial Meeting which was held from 14 to 16th of January was opened by the President of ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency James Victor Gbeho.
In his keynote address, the ECOWAS Commission President said that the ECOWAS Information Policy Document, which had guided the Community citizen sensitization and mobilization for a decade, had become inadequate in meeting the dynamics of the fast changing political, economic and social transformation within the Community and elsewhere.