UNESCO concludes 3-day training for judges on press freedom and AI ethics

Social News A group photograph on the opening day of the event
DEC 6, 2023 LISTEN
A group photograph on the opening day of the event

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has concluded a 3-day training workshop organized for judges on freedom of expression, artificial intelligence, and the rule of law.

Held at the Alisa Hotel in Tema from Monday, December 4 to Wednesday, December 6, the training saw participants drawn from Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

It was conceived based on the observation that challenges of press freedom and the safety of journalists in West Africa keep increasing as threats and physical harm are frequently meted out to journalists.

Mr. Edmond Moukala, Director of the UNESCO Accra Office, at the opening ceremony on Monday, noted that it was tailored toward strengthening the role of the judiciary in protecting freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, the rule of law, and artificial intelligence.

He explained that “judicial actors need to be well versed in freedom of expression challenges both online and offline.”

In a keynote address read on her behalf, Justice Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu, the Director of the Judicial Training Institute and Chief Justice of Ghana Her Ladyship Justice Gertrude A.E. Sackey Torkornoo, said people are no longer allowed to freely express their views on pertinent issues of national interest.

“In the real world, the freedom of people to express themselves on pertinent national issues has been crippled by governmental interventions all over the world, not necessarily of a military character,” she said.

"It is therefore viewed as a distasteful right, particularly among military juntas in the realm they govern," the CJ further alluded.

She expresses worry that the growing practice of “yellow journalism” continues to frustrate progress made in achieving freedom of speech, expression, and media freedom in Ghana.

She cited instances where some journalists and media houses published "very distasteful, inciteful, hateful, and defamatory commentary and reportage targeted at private individuals, public persons and the institutions they head."

While condemning such irresponsible journalism, Justice Sackey Torkornoo stressed that "attacks and threats on journalists and the media are never an option and must not be encouraged to rear their ugly heads nor prevail."

She advised persons affected by bad reporting to seek legal redress "through the appropriate state organs and the formal court system" instead of attacks that have been on the rise against journalists globally.

On his part, Minister for Information and Member of Parliament for Ofoase Ayirebi, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah called on judges to pronounce stern judgements against persons who attack journalists.

According to him, stiffer punishment against perpetrators by the courts is necessary to deter would-be offenders and protect freedom of expression in the country.

“The public looks up to you to pronounce stern judgment on perpetrators of press attacks to serve as a deterrent to others,” he noted.

The Training:
Participants discussed international standards on press freedom and journalist safety. They analyzed restrictions on expression using the "triple test methodology."

Later, sessions focused on the role of AI in law and considerations around algorithmic accountability and bias.

Facilitating the sessions were legal and AI experts, including Prof. Dr. Hélène Tigroudja, Justice George Koomson, and Hanani Hlomani.

Isaac Donkor Distinguished
Isaac Donkor Distinguished

News ReporterPage: IsaacDonkorDistinguished