Philippines Siege - IFJ Warns Against Charging Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins

its affiliates in the Philippines and Hong Kong in warning that any charges

laid against media personnel in the Philippines in regard to reporting on a

siege in Manila in August would set a dangerous precedent for free reporting of

sensitive situations.


Philippine President

Benigno Aquino said on September 20 that investigators had recommended charges

be laid against at least 12 people, including two journalists, over an incident

in which a tour bus was hijacked in Manila

on August 23. Eight Hong Kong nationals were

killed in the day-long siege. Seven people were injured.


The IFJ supports the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in cautioning the Philippines’ Government against attributing

criminal liability to journalists in relation to the incident.


“The Philippine media

have, by and large, acknowledged lapses and have begun discussing ways to

individually and collectively ensure that more care and sensitivity are taken

in future coverage of similar delicate situations,” the NUJP

said in a statement.


The IFJ notes that

several media organisations in the Philippines have already put in

place concrete measures to revise and strengthen guidelines on coverage of

similar incidents. The IFJ firmly believes that journalists and media workers

must devise and implement independent mechanisms for dealing with professional

ethical issues and complaints against the media.


“Criminal charges against

media personnel would set a dangerous precedent for the Philippines that would potentially

cause journalists and media organisations to censor coverage of other sensitive

situations for fear of criminal liability,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park said.


“There is a risk here

that journalists and media organisations may be made scapegoats.”


The Hong Kong

Journalists’ association (HKJA) has also made clear it supports the spirit of

the NUJP position on this issue. It stresses

that professional ethical issues must be handled by media professionals when no

laws have been violated.


For further information contact IFJ

Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125



Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific