The European Union and Germany, in partnership with the ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture and Operations (EPSAO) Project funded by the co-funders, have initiated a two-day training program for media editors and chief executives on effective election reporting to prevent violence leading up to the upcoming general elections in Sierra Leone.

The media training is organized by the ECOWAS Democracy and Good Governance Division (DGGD), in conjunction with the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (SL), the Independent Media Commission (IMC), and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ). This collaborative effort acknowledges the crucial role of the media in elections and emphasizes the significance of constructive cooperation between the media and national election management bodies to ensure peaceful, transparent, inclusive, and credible elections.

The training is taking place at Sierra Palms Hotel in Freetown from May 25-26, 2023, and will bring together approximately 40 editors and chief executives from various segments of the media industry in Sierra Leone, including online, print, and electronic media. This initiative builds upon previous support, wherein media practitioners were trained on election reporting in three districts of the country in June 2022.

The primary objective of this engagement is to foster experience sharing among senior media professionals on how the media can maintain a balanced approach in its reporting, creating an environment conducive to peaceful and democratic elections in Sierra Leone.

By the end of the training sessions, media outlets are expected to be equipped with best practices to de-escalate political tensions among citizens and supporters of political parties during the electoral period through the application of peace journalism. Additionally, participants will be empowered to report credibly, professionally, and objectively throughout the election campaign.

These training sessions also aim to enhance the relationship between the media and the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) while raising awareness among media practitioners in Sierra Leone about international and regional standards for election reporting, including the “ECOWAS Norms and Standards for the Media in the Promotion of Peace and Security in West Africa.”

The EPSAO Project aligns with the ECOWAS Commission’s mandate to address regional peace and security threats by strengthening capacities in four critical policy areas: Peace Support Operations, Conflict Prevention, Security Sector Reform and Governance (SSRG), as well as Electoral Affairs. The EPSAO Project endeavors to tackle the root causes of conflicts and promote collective action and regional strategies among ECOWAS Member States to mitigate conflict and insecurity, including rebellions, violent extremism, communal violence, illicit small arms and light weapons proliferation, piracy, land-use conflicts, and election-related violence.