A three-day sub-regional seminar aiming at training skills of 15 leaders from the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and the "Association des Journalistes de Guinée" (AJG) took place in Monrovia, Liberia, on August 10-12, 2004. The workshop was organised with the support of an IFJ/LOTCO programme, which will lead to in-countries workshops and seminars in the three countries before the end of 2004.
The opening ceremony was presided over by Dr. C. William Allen, Minister of Information, in the presence of Alymana Bathily, representative of the International Liberia Media Support Partnership Initiative. The Director of the IFJ Africa Office, Gabriel Baglo, and the Administrative and Financial officer Maïmouna Ndoye attended the session and presented the various steps in the implementation of the programme.
This IFJ-LO/TCO supported workshop is a contribution to a Partnership Initiative for Media and Peace in Western Africa, following the regional meeting organised on July 8-10 2003 in Accra (Ghana) by the Media Foundation for Western Africa (MFWA, based in Accra), International Media Support (IMS), UNESCO, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and
others media organisations including the IFJ. The objective of this initiative is to develop a strategic and regional programme of action involving a number of partners working in the region, with a specific focus on countries in conflict in West Africa.
The participants to the Liberia meeting discussed and planned the in-country activities to be organized before the end of December 2004, which will address trade union development issues, the role of women in media organisations and conflict reporting.
From this workshop onwards, the PUL intends to re-launch the recruitment drive, revive its branches inside the country, consider discussion on collective bargaining, and ensure the participation of women in the next executive committee election in November 2004: the present executive members of the PUL are all male.
The SLAJ is aiming to discuss trade union issues in the coming years and especially provide for collective bargaining, the association being so far managed by media owners.
The AJG is planning to hold a congress and renew the executive committee: since 1996 the AJG has not been able to organise a general meeting and elect its executive.
The participants have decided to found the Mano River Union Journalists Network (MRU-JONET) and asked the IFJ to support its development.
After the workshop, a meeting with the president of the recently created Association of Independent Newspapers Editors, Augustus B. Fallah, managing editor of Forum Newspaper. The association has affirmed its commitment to the PUL and will seek from the IFJ some training and support as gatekeepers in the media.See also