The Judiciary unveiled their new Media Access Guidelines during an interactive workshop led by the Public Relations and Legal team. The aim is for journalists to understand the judicial process in order to improve coverage of court cases. Stakeholders such as the Attorney General’s office, the Media Commission, and the University of Seychelles were also present.
A number of pertinent topics were discussed; how to dissect judgments for news stories, how the court works, where to get information, and how to be critical of a case without attacked judges personally.
The unveiling of the Media Access Guidelines also offered journalists a brief overview of best practices when accessing court, and includes a Glossary of commonly used legal terms with their definitions and Creole equivalent.
The Media Access Guidelines were created and compiled by the Legal Research department of the Judiciary, under the leadership of Director for Legal Affairs Lionel Garrick. The booklet was initiated and approved by Chief Justice Rony Govinden.
“Our hope is that journalists make use of the resources we make available to them, and improve the working relationship between the courts and the media,” Director Garrick noted when unveiling the booklet.
Speaking on the reasons for the workshop, the Chief Justice Rony Govinden said in his opening address,
“Our aim is for the media to continuously improve the way they report on court cases, judgments, and sentences because the media are the driving force behind the public’s perception of our legal system.”
A presentation by state counsel Joshua Revera covered how the Attorney General’s office prosecutes criminal cases, and the Attorney General Frank Ally answered some of the attendees’ questions about laws, convictions, and his role in bringing cases to court.
An interactive portion of the workshop, led by Public Relations and Communications officer Sasha-Lee Marivel Alis and Senior Legal Researcher Sylvia Kamanja, focused on specifics of court case coverage.
“Since I joined the Judiciary last year I noted some gaps in the media’s understanding of the judicial world, which can be confusing with its many legal terms and scary outlook,” explained Mrs. Marivel Alis. “However I want to start bridging this gap and give concrete examples of best practice so they can feel more confident in their reporting. It’s essential to transparency, open access to justice, and freedom of information.”
The question and answer session revealed some of the shortcomings of the media, and how to overcome their challenges.
Media representatives expressed their desire for more sessions like these in future, as it offers support in areas where they lack training.
World Press Freedom Day is celebrated yearly on 3 May and serves to celebrate journalists around the world, and the benefits of free press in the advancements of social development.