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UAE media adopts code of conduct

Meraj Rizvi (UAE Editor)
Filed on October 3, 2007

DUBAI — Editors of leading Arabic and English newspapers in the UAE on Monday signed the Charter of Honour and Code of Ethics underlining their commitment to a responsible media which would ensure credibility, accuracy and unbiased nature of news content.

The 26-article document which defines the rules and ethics of the journalistic profession, was drafted following the political leadership’s keenness on ensuring a favourable environment for the freedom of Press in the country.

Addressing the media fraternity after signing the Charter in Dubai, Mohammed Yusouf, Chairman of the UAE Journalists’ Association (UAEJA), said, “The Press community highly values the directives by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan for offering all forms of support to journalists so as to assume their duties in serving the nation.”

He also praised the instructions of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for ruling out imprisonment of journalists for matters related to their professional duties.

“As these instructions provide enough room of freedom of the press, they will put additional responsibility on journalists with regard to commitment to the Code of Ethics,” Yusouf affirmed.

He said that Shaikh Mohammed had welcomed the new move by terming it as a leverage of confidence between the media and the local community.

The UAEJA chairman also praised the role of the National Media Council, under the chairmanship of Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, in devising the Code of Ethics, thus upgrading the profession in terms of responsibilities, obligations and rights in line with the values of Arab and Muslim communities.

The Charter of Honour underlines respect for truth and the right of the public to have access to authentic and accurate information, he said.

“While performing their duties, journalists should keep in mind the principles of freedom and integrity in gathering and publishing stories and also voicing fair and neutral comments and criticisms,” he added.

“Besides, they should use only legitimate means to obtain information, photographs and documents from genuine sources,” he cautioned.

“Journalists should respect the privacy of individuals and not publish anything without the consent of the individuals concerned,” Yusouf said.

With regard to the source of news, both the charter and the code emphasise that professionalism and confidentiality must be strictly observed if the source demands anonymity.

“Journalists should not seek to provoke or inflame public feelings, and must strictly refrain from the use of media organs for purpose of libel or slander,” Yusouf said.

Journalists should avoid stories that carry a hint of discrimination of race, sex, language, faith, nationality and social backgrounds.

The charter stipulates that in crimes and issues dealing with children, names and photographs of suspects in ongoing trials until final verdicts are pronounced should not be published.

The charter expects journalists to be unprejudiced in their reports and refrain from publishing photos of brutal violence and respect the feelings of the public, especially children.

The document also expects journalists to avoid using offending and obscene language in their reports.

Human rights should also be respected and valued and should not be abused by the media under any pretext, the document states.

The charter describes plagiarism, ill-intention interpretation, libel, slander, censure, defamation, allegation and bribery as dangerous violations. Accepting gratification is considered breach of the code, Yusouf stated.


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