Role of the Media in building a Culture of Human Rights

Role of the Media in building a Culture of Human Rights

In the photo, TAMWA members accompanied by the daughter of an activist in Dodoma during the lobby of the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act SOSPA 1998








1. Issues of Concern


  • Lack of legal literacy and Human Rights awareness has been a major constraint in building a culture of Human Rights in Tanzania.
  • There is a lack of political will in the country to initiate collective responsibility in upholding Human Rights principles.
  • The network in the initiative for Human rights awareness is currently being consolidated by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and by civil society organizations (CSOs) but hasn’t gone down to community level.
  • Lack of sufficient funds in the national budget allocation towards training on Human Rights has constrained the training of key people like media practitioners to campaign in raising Human Rights awareness.
  • The information on the Constitution, legislation and human Rights Charters to the beneficiaries has been haphazard, at times almost non-existent.
  • Communities have not been empowered with sufficient skills and resources to be able to address the issue of Human Rights within the context of collective community action.
  • Curricula in Journalism training colleges do not offer training on Social Justice or skills on Human Rights.
  • The media have not been co-opted as potential stakeholders in the campaign to raise awareness on Human Rights.
  • Lack of legal literacy among media practitioners is a constraint; hence Human Rights abuse is not given a priority while reporting news.
  • Gender-based violence and discrimination; lack of affirmative action programs; and gender biases and stereotypes have propagated negative portrayal of women in the media.
  • Lack of gender desks in police stations and lack of accountability among law enforcers is often not reported by the media, and if it is reported, then the stance taken is that of sensationalist news stories; not properly researched and strategically written/produced in order to raise public concern.
  • The issue of human Rights has not been given priority as an agenda among the media.
  • The media does not feel accountable, in building a culture of peace; religious harmony; and Human Rights.
  • The media often refuses to acknowledge that there is Human Rights abuses/violation taking place.
  • Lack of adequate sympathy from media practitioners has constrained victims/survivors of Human Rights abuse from seeking support from the media.
  • Stigma and Discrimination has been a constraint in breaking the silence on many issues like HIV/AIDS, sex crimes etc. where the media sensationalizes the information garnered; instead of reporting the matter with the sensitivity it deserves.
  • Safety for media practitioners is not regarded as a Human Rights issue.
  • There is need for producing information packages on the Constitution; legislations; and Human Rights charters; into reader friendly kits with illustrations in order to sensitize media practitioners on their role on sensitizing the public on Human Rights
  • Media practitioners have often been accused of accepting “incentives” in order to distort information. This needs to be addressed by media houses and by Press Clubs to find out if the accusation is based on fact.


2. What needs to be done?


  • To conduct training workshop on “the role/duty of media practitioners in advocacy on Human Rights and in sensitizing the public to build and to adhere to a culture of Human rights.”
  • To prepare an information kit for media practitioners on the ethos of Human Rights; how to spot Human Rights abuse; and what to do when it takes place.
  • To create advocates of Human Rights among key media actors.
  • To re-enforce the power of the media in campaigning for Human Rights practice and to make media practitioners feel accountable.
  • To re-reiterate the need for a corruption – free media.
  • To give skills to key media actors in utilizing the media positively by portraying positive images of women; children; PLHIV; people with physical disabilities and challenges; the down trodden; poor people; members of rural communities who have not had access to higher education opportunities.
  • To give media practitioners skills in reporting/portraying testimonies from victims/survivors in a positive manner.
  • To prod the media to move in the right direction by showing and reporting balanced images and information on social issues.
  • To give a balanced overview of current trends in politics; economics; and socio-religious interpersonal relations.

Strategy and Tools

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3. Entry Point for Target Audience


–           Press clubs (which are located in every region of the country)

–           The Tanzania Information services (MAELEZO) which gives accreditation to Journalists and which registers all print media publications.

–           Media Houses – both print and Electronic

–           Media based CSOs

4. Trainers

–      CSO leaders/specialist on Social Justice

–      Human Rights Activist



“Together We Can Make it Happen”

Leila Sheikh

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