27 senior police officers from 11 African countries are attending a regional training for security forces on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists in Mombasa. The Regional Director at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Prof. Hubert Gijzen Wednesday opened the training which aims at equipping police officers with skills in handling media as a way of promoting freedom of expression and the rule of law. Seven of the participating officers are Kenyans. Also in attendance are UNESCO Staff from other regional offices in Africa. Journalists from Across Africa will be joining the training on Friday. A 2020 UNESCO study of 65 countries pointed to a sharp rise in violations of press freedom during protests, including harassment, intimidation, attacks, arrests and even killings of journalists, often carried out by police and security forces. A lack of police training on how to maintain order while enabling journalists to do their job is considered a major contributor to this problem. UNESCO has already trained 8500 police in 17 countries in Latin America, Africa and the Arab region through local partnerships. According to UNESCO data, almost nine-in-ten journalist killings worldwide in recent years remain unresolved. The UNESCO and International Police Association (IPA) training initiative will also encourage police to pursue investigations to ensure that those responsible for these crimes are identified and prosecuted. This work will be expanded and accelerated through this new agreement with IPA which has 372,000 members in nearly 100 countries. To implement this training, UNESCO will draw from its long experience of training judges, who also play a critical role in the protection of freedom of expression, freedom of the press and access to information. Since 2013, the organization and its partners have trained 23,000 judges, judicial actors and civil society representatives from around the world on international standards around these issues.  

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