30 November 2012
International Backing for Inquiry's Call for Journalists' Conscience Clause
A major report on the ethics of the press in the UK has backed proposals by the National Union of Journalists for the UK and Ireland (NUJ) to give journalists a conscience clause in their contracts to allow them to refuse to undertake unethical work.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have joined together to give their support to the proposals and to call on the concept to be given high priority as steps are taken to establish a new regulatory regime.
The proposals are included in a major report by Lord Justice Leveson as part of an independent inquiry into improper practices within the media, including allegations of phone hacking and other criminal practices.
The NUJ, an IFJ and EFJ affiliate, had called on the judge to recommend a new regulatory regime following the failure of the British Press Complaints Commission to maintain high standards.
In his report, which runs to four volumes and 2000 pages, Leveson states that he was "struck by the evidence of journalists who felt that they might be put under pressure to do things that were unethical or against the code. I therefore suggest that the new independent self-regulatory body should establish a whistle-blowing hotline and encourage its members to ensure that journalists' contracts include a conscience clause protecting them if they refuse."
IFJ President and NUJ member Jim Boumelha welcomed the backing of the conscience clause by the judge: "The NUJ's evidence to the inquiry made clear the enormous pressures facing many journalists. In too many cases journalists face the choice of either undertaking work with which they are not comfortable or face the prospect of losing their job. The power lies with owners and editors. If we want journalists to stand up for ethical journalism, they need to be given the confidence to abide by their union's code of conduct and to say no without fear of disciplinary procedures."
"I would urge the new regulatory body to take these elements of the Leveson report very seriously indeed."
Conscience clauses can already be found as standard in many collective agreements in Europe. EFJ President Arne König added: "I congratulate the NUJ on achieving a significant victory in its campaign for a conscience clause. Following this clear recommendation, we would urge media companies to negotiate with the NUJ to put in place provisions that will help working journalists to live up to high ethical standards."
For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 134 countries
PFUJ condemns attempt on senior journalist’s life
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has expressed its serious concern over the discovery of a bomb under the vehicle of senior journalist Hamid Mir on Monday (November 26, 2012).
According to media reports, a bomb placed under Hamid Mir’s car failed to go off. Mir is host of the popular programme Capital Talk aired on Geo TV. Geo News reported that Hamid Mir had gone to a market in his car and after returning home, the driver spotted a suspicious bag lying under his car. The bomb disposal squad was immediately called in to remove the bag after which it was revealed that the bag contained half a kg of explosive material. The explosives reportedly did not detonate due to faulty wiring.
In a statement, PFUJ Secretary General Amin Yousuf said, “such acts amounted to silencing those who support freedom of expression. But media would never be silenced.” “There has been a surge in attacks on the media which is a deplorable trend. It is the responsibility of the government to provide protection to journalists who strived to provide true facts to the people without any biases.” The PFUJ called upon the government to nab those involved in such heinous acts.
A Jailed Journalist Speaks Out
From Warscapes: Ethiopia's Eskinder Nega describes what it's like to be arrested for his writing.
Introduction by Charlayne Hunter-Gault
(The Root) -- President Barack Obama's strong defense of freedom of speech at the United Nations last month was clearly directed at the sputtering young Arab and North African democracies, where violent anti-American protests were ostensibly sparked by a video (Why don't people stop calling it a film?) that insulted the Prophet Muhammad. The president's tough speech followed his late-night call to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, demanding that he get control of the demonstrations by alleged radical Islamists. The big stick that President Obama wielded was America's huge aid to Egypt. And presto, the Egyptian president complied.
The same tactic could be used in Ethiopia, where not only is the new leadership continuing the previous government's ongoing repression of independent journalists -- including those imprisoned on specious charges -- but it is getting even more repressive. According to the U.S. State Department: "The total U.S. government assistance, including food aid, between 2000 and 2011 was $6.226 billion. In FY 2011 the U.S. government provided $847 million in assistance, including more than $323 million in food aid. Today, Ethiopia is an important regional security partner of the United States."
It is hard to imagine that the U.S. government condones the widely condemned treatment of Ethiopia's independent journalists, including Eskinder Nega, recently sentenced to 18 years in prison on spurious charges of terrorism that were actually nonviolent criticisms of the increasingly repressive Ethiopian regime. Now, in the last few days, the Ethiopian government has frozen Nega's meager assets, along with those of two others in prison with him: Andualem Arage and Abebe Gellaw.
It is also hard to imagine how Nega's wife, Serkalem Fasil, who was once imprisoned with him, and their 7-year-old son, who was born in prison, can manage now. And without a car, how will she get to the prison on the outskirts of Addis Ababa to visit her husband and take him much-needed nutritious food? Money talks in every part of the world, including Ethiopia.
The following essay by Nega, whose release I have advocated for with Ethiopian officials, is just one more chilling example of the need to include Ethiopia in the president's demand for what is called for everywhere: respect for freedom of speech.
General Tsadekan, the EPRDF and the North African Revolution
Rush, rush, rush. Time is flying. The article has not been finished. Write, edit, delete, write again, revise; it doesn't have end. Two hours left. The last minutes are for coffee. Alas!
Friday is like that for me, for the journalist. I have appointment on Friday morning with Ethiopians who reside Washington, D.C., via Skype. I am rushing to be on time for my appointment. Other Ethiopian Diaspora could meet me anytime. . . .
READ the entire essay at http://www.theroot.com/views/jailed-journalist-speaks-out.
reprinted at Washingtonpost.com.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today warned that journalists and media personnel remain prime targets for political extremists, gangsters and terrorists as it announced that at least 94 journalists and media personnel who were killed in 2010, victims of targeted killings, bomb attacks and crossfire incidents. Three other journalists lost their lives in accidents this year.
The IFJ list was issued just two days after police in Sweden and Denmark revealed they had foiled a potentially deadly bomb plot against Jyllens Posten, the Danish newspaper that in 2005 set off protests around the world when it published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed.
Elsewhere the IFJ list puts Pakistan top of the list of the most dangerous zones for journalists in 2010, ahead of Mexico, Honduras and Iraq.
"Nearly 100 journalists killed is a heavy loss which ought to stir the world governments into action to offer better protection to journalists," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "The sheer number of murders and conflict related incidents which claimed the lives of journalists and media personnel around the globe this year has brought into sharp focus the high risks associated with the practice journalism today."