Media practitioners and journalists from all over Afghanistan adopted a historic National Charter for Media and Democracy at a summit meeting in Kabul on July 31. This charter, enshrining the values of free speech and the right to information of all citizens, will constitute the basis for action by professional media unions and associations in the years ahead.
The media summit was convened under a project being implemented by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), with its local associates in Afghanistan, the Afghan Independent Journalists' Association and the Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists. Funded by the European Commission, the project will in the months ahead, seek to train a cadre of media professionals fully conversant with best practices in political reporting and election coverage.
Preceding the media summit, the IFJ and its associates hosted a “national meeting” of Afghan journalists at which a number of presentations were made on themes of vital consequence to the media, such as: the role of media in a democratic polity; media ethics; freedom of information and accountability in governance; editorial independence; public service journalism; media as advocacy; and media law.
This day-long session of presentations by experts and practitioners based in Afghanistan was followed by an IFJ training workshop on media rights monitoring. This training underpins a national effort supported by the IFJ to monitor, record, publicise all violations of media rights, press freedom and journalists safety.
The National Charter on Media and Democracy, adopted on July 31, distils the best of the discussions over the preceding two days, and it is premised on the “fundamental principle” that the journalist has to work with the principal obligations of respecting the truth and the public right to know.
The National Charter on Media and Democracy, now available in English and Dari, underlines that the journalist has the right to function in conditions of safety and security and that he or she has the right to organise in professional bodies and collectively bargain for wages and appropriate working conditions.
This claim to a distinct set of rights as a professional community is underlined by an ethical code that commits journalists to the public right to know.
The charter has a number of further clauses under the broad section-heads of “editorial independence”, “media pluralism, public service and open government”, and “social dialogue, rights of journalists and media”. It also commits the IFJ and its local associates to a practical program for follow-up actions, subject to review and evaluation over time-horizons of six months and a year.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries