Journalists and Media practitioners in Northern Kenya have concluded a two-day training for Media representatives on their role in countering violent extremism (CVE) and international terrorism reporting.
The training was aimed at equipping the participants with skills that will improve understanding and communication techniques targeting specific journalists, editors, students of journalism, and Government Public Information Officers.
Held in Garissa, the training was facilitated by the Horizon Analysts and Researchers Network (HARN) in collaboration with Northern Kenya Media Practitioners – (NKMP) and Womenkind Kenya.
The Director of Horizon Analysts and Researchers Network (HARN), Siyad Jimaale, said the participants will at the end of the training learn skills to build the knowledge of media representatives in reporting on terrorism and extremism issues.
Mr. Jimaale said HARN, an independent non-profit policy research organization producing quality policy research to increase the understanding of realities in Northern Kenya has documented new changes and patterns used by violent extremist organizations for recruitment.
The Director called on local media in Northern Kenya to take a leading role in helping authorities counter violent extremism.
“Poor reporting by media practitioners has been identified as one of the leading challenges on the security of the country,” Mr. Jimaale said.
“I hope such training courses will help the journalists to more accurately report on these issues,” he added.
The director of the Think Tank called on members of the fourth estate to credibly report on the consequences of terrorism, the underlying aims, and the motivations of terrorists.
These he said, “will address awareness deficits and initiate inclusive debates among the public regarding problems that may lead to violent radicalization as well as developing local solutions.”
Abdirashid Hussein, a Peace, Cohesion, and Security analyst working in Northern Kenya said the exercise was significant in enhancing the interaction of the national security agencies and media in preventing these global threats.
“This will enable sharing of information, experience and best practices, promoting dialogue between communities and countering of violent extremism in Northern Kenya”, said Hussein, a Security expert.
The Secretary General of Northern Kenya Media Practitioners – (NKMP), Yunis Dekow said the participants were trained on advancing Cooperation between the media and other agencies to promote transparency and accountability.
“I hope the training has made Northern Media Practitioners better informed and will help in the coverage of insurgents activities and promote transformative engagement with partners,” said the Secretary-General.
Mr. Dekow called on security agencies responding to threats posed by violent extremists to be watchful in their counterterrorism efforts and uphold basic democratic and human rights as enshrined in the constitution.
In Garissa, Kenya’s ambitious LAPSSET project has been derailed by elements of the Somali militant group al-Shabaab.
The death toll Since September last year along the corridor program is at least 30, the majority of them construction workers.
In the last two months alone, seven attacks targeting the project workers and property were conducted leaving half a dozen dead and destroying valuables. The attack has increased since the beginning of the year.
Despite Kenya deploying heavy security to safeguard the construction of the LAPSSET project, the insurgents have interrupted plans to connect the region, affecting planned trade and logistics adventures, as well as the expected rapid economic transformation predicted in Northern Kenya.
The training is aimed at building the knowledge of media representatives in reporting on terrorism and extremism issues and enhancing the interaction of national security agencies and media in preventing these global threats.
Training participants also discussed issues and problems of Mass Media in Northern Kenya in reporting on extremism and terrorism issues, reviewing the legislation, using the internet for radicalization, preparation of press releases, interviews, and special reportages and how to avoid propaganda when reporting.
The one-day course is part of a project on combatting terrorism initiated by Horizon Analysts and Researchers Network (HARN).
Mahat Abdi and Halima Noor, who were among the participants, thanked the organizers for coordinating the training which they believe will improve their reportage around countering violent extremism. The two said the course has opened their eyes giving room to also collaborate with other media practitioners in investigating and verifying stories.
The participants were drawn from the print, electronic and social media in Garissa County and is set to be conducted in other parts of the country that have challenges of security.
The Northern Kenya Media Practitioners is chaired by Abdikadir Ukash, founder and Editor of Kulan Post, the country’s leading digital media outlet which focuses on Northern Kenya.