MALTA: The training and welfare of journalists were among the issues highlighted at the 9th Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) Conference held here recently.
Other issues which took centre stage were climate change, press freedom, media law and ethics.
Among the panelists were some of the finest and well-known journalists from the Commonwealth countries, such as Mehenda Ved from India, Jon William (world news editor of the BBC, UK), Zaffar Abbas (Pakistan), William Horsley (UK) and Chris Cobbs (CJA vice-president from Canada).
According to Zaffar, who is a victim of threats and abuse himself, journalists in Pakistan were very vulnerable to danger, including death.
He said last year alone some 300 deaths were recorded among journalists worldwide, with more than 100 of them Pakistanis.
“I myself have been the target of unknown assailants for more than 10 years, and I have to rely on my driver to find new routes to reach my office every day.
“I am one of the most privileged journalists in Pakistan as I am accorded this kind of protection from my employer and the authorities. But imagine those who couldn’t,” said Zaffar, who is a BBC correspondent based in Islamabad and the editor of Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
On training and welfare of journalists, newly-elected CJA president Rita Payne from CJA UK said the association needed much funding to implement its activities.
“I am very honoured for being elected to head the CJA and I will try my best to bring the best brains together for the betterment of journalists in commonwealth countries.”
She succeeded Hassan Shariar, of Bangladesh, who had led the association for two terms.
Hassan has been elected president emeritus.
In his parting speech, Hassan said CJA’s main aims and objectives were to raise the standards of journalism in the Commonwealth, particularly in poor and developing countries; encourage interest in and knowledge of the Commonwealth by improving the standards of reporting; promote the role of journalists in contributing to good governance and fair reporting on civil society; defend the rights and interests of endangered journalists; and promote human rights.
“In the last 35 years, the CJA has remained committed to its values.”
CJA past presidents Derek Ingram and Murray Burt, who are now president emeritus, were present throughout the four-day conference.
Meanwhile, CJA Sarawak chairperson Caroline Jackson said she was glad to be able to participate in the conference together with six of its branch exco members.
The group from Sarawak was considered the second largest one at the conference, after Bangladesh which had 12.
Caroline was among CJA international exco members who were re-elected during the election of office-bearers at the conference officiated by Malta’s Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture, Mario de Marco.
Some 80 participants from 15 countries took part in conference, held on this beautiful island located in the Mediterranean Sea.