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
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