ECOWAS Official Wants Penalties For Regional Protocols Violations
Monrovia – An official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) wants sanctions regime for member countries that violate the regional bloc protocols.
“There is no sanction regime for countries violating ECOWAS protocols and that is something that we really need to ensure all member countries abide by these protocols”, said Ambassador Tunde Ayisomo, Special Representative of ECOWAS President in Liberia.
According to him ECOWAS has so many good protocols which, if respected by all member countries, will lead to improvement in issues of good governance, trade, security and others.
He says protocols such as free movement, goods and services, economic amongst others are good protocols for member countries but countries have to show willingness to implement these protocols and abide by its terms.
Ambassador Ayisomo disclosed that the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice will soon begin conducting external court sessions in member countries to create awareness about the existence of the court and the need for ECOWAS citizens to seek legal redress through the court.
He called on Liberia and African journalists to create the awareness on ECOWAS and its protocols in their respective countries.
Report faithfully and responsibly
Speaking at a one day seminar on ECOWAS, the protocol on Good Governance and Democracy and Frameworks on Pro-Poor Policies and Fair Economic Redistribution Ambassador Ayisomo challenged the media to report faithfully and responsibility.
“Report faithfully and responsibility, journalists are the custodian of information and you need to perform your job to remove people from poverty”, Ambassador Ayisomo.
The ECOWAS Ambassador wants the organization to work to closely examine in making the organizations protocols implementable by removing barriers, impediments to the implementation process.
ECOWAS Supports pluralism
Press Union of Liberia President, K. Abdullai Kamara said it is good for the media to help create awareness on ECOWAS protocols because, according to him, many member countries are not implementing those protocols.
“We need to know more about ECOWAS, because many government are not implementing these protocols they ratified”, he said.
One some specific ECOWAS Protocols, Kamara said ECOWAS supports media pluralism and provides for support to independent media.
“ECOWAS protocol supports media pluralism where it even calls for government to provide support to media institutions but we are seen something different here, where instead of giving media institutions support, we are closing them down for taxes”, the Press Union of Liberia President lamented.
Malcolm W. Joseph of the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) said the seminar is a pilot project for four ECOWAS countries meant to create awareness about Good Governance and Democracy and Frameworks on Pro-Poor Policies and Fair Economic Redistribution.
The goal of the seminar, he noted is to get a team of journalists that will help to report on ECOWAS contributing to good governance, reducing poverty and providing information on ECOWAS framework.
The pilot project, Joseph disclosed is aimed at ensuring that at least 10 million citizens from the pilot countries of Liberia, Burkina Faso, Mali and Sierra Leone are reached through media awareness.
Presenting on a pilot survey conducted in Liberia amongst 100 respondents on knowledge of ECOWAS, Atty. Lamii Kpargoi, consultant on the project, said the survey found that people generally have heard about ECOWAS but majority knows the organization for its peace keeping intervention in Liberia.
He said more awareness is required for the public to know and understand more about ECOWAS protocols.
Abigail Larbi, program Officer, media Federation for West Africa based in Accra, Ghana said there is always an issue of compliance with ECOWAS protocol and challenged the media to hold leaders accountable for complying with these protocols.
“The media needs to probe, ask the questions and close the gaps”, she said.
On the issue of the ECOWAS Community Court she indicated many citizens have won cases but implementing the court’s judgment is another issue.
Ernest Kolubah, a representative of IBIS, one of the sponsors of the seminar said IBIS is interested in a society free of conflict and is happy to sponsor good governance initiatives.
“Where there is no good governance, there will be conflict, so it is good for the media to be involved in creating awareness on good governance issues”, Kolubah said.
He also wants the media to hold governments accountable on good governance issues, saying the Liberian media intervention should begin now.
At the end of the one day seminar, senior editors, media managers, talk shows and media executives in Liberia setup a network known as the Liberia Journalists Network on ECOWAS intended to ensure that a group of journalists report on ECOWAS activities.
Winnie S. Jimmy of the Inquirer Newspaper was elected Coordinator of the Network while Tetee Gebro was elected Co-Chair and Henry Sumo Secretary.