The Rabat Declaration 1999

The Rabat Declaration

Second Conference of Mediterranean Journalists

Editorial Independence and Journalists' Rights

Rabat, 2 and 3 December 1999

Professional journalists from 8 countries (Algeria, Cyprus, Spain, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Portugal and Tunisia) met in Rabat on 2-3 December 1999 within the framework of the Second Mediterranean Conference on "Editorial Independence and Journalists' Rights". They adopted the following final declaration:

On the basis of the declarations of Milan (1993 and 1995), of Zagreb (1998) and of Florence (1998).

1. Democracy is the form of government that offers citizens as a whole the chance to influence government policy and that recognizes the right to freedom of speech and of expression. The widespread circulation of information is crucial to this end. It is necessary to protect all democratic processes against the establishment of monopoly positions or the political and economic concentration of power.

2. We insist on the fact that governments will only be able to safeguard democracy by ensuring that each citizen enjoys the right to freedom of speech and opinion.

3. We demand that governments set up democratic and responsible public television and radio broadcasting systems.

4. We insist on the point that the public service obligations inherent in the media are crucial to freedom of expression and of opinion, and to the protection of the pluralism of opinions.

We believe that journalists' rights and editorial independence are an essential tool in the exercise of journalism, in other words provide a genuine public service for the citizenry.

Democracy in publishing must be safeguarded by an editorial statute reflecting both the professional code of conduct and standards of conduct and of participation in the editorial line of the information medium.

For the implementation of this principle, it is necessary to create the appropriate structures in each information medium, such as internal editorial councils or independent and pluralistic organs elected in a democratic manner.

The journalists' unions taking part in this Second Conference undertake to fight for the real implementation of these objectives, which are considered to be one of the crucial principles in ensuring that information remains objective.

We note that journalists in countries situated in the Mediterranean area encounter obstacles to the free exercise of their profession.

We condemn the fact that governments and executive powers monopolize control over public information media and do not allow participation in the development of guidelines or monitoring by parliament, political parties or representatives of civil society.

We demand that journalists in the audiovisual and printed media, whether public or private, be allowed a contractual statute enabling them to exercise their profession in a context of material dignity and of journalistic independence.

Similarly, we condemn censure in any shape or form, as well as the influence exercised by the political authorities and by the power of money, which are increasingly predominant in a globalized environment. We demand that whenever an article is reused in the electronic media, the journalist in question should be accorded authors' rights.

We draw attention to an overall situation that is dangerous for the exercise of the profession, and that can be summed up in the precarious nature of jobs (low salaries, the absence of contracts, temporary contracts, anarchistic recruitment methods) which threatens the freedom and the independence of journalists.

We recommend that the IFJ continue its campaign for the defence of public radio and television as a guarantee of independent and quality information, as well as the establishment of mechanisms designed to guarantee financial transparency.

We urge unions in the Mediterranean countries to strive to defend the free and independent exercise of their profession, and to pursue debate and the pooling of experience in seeking to resolve all specific situations.

We recommend the establishment of a Mediterranean rim television network of public services with the aid of the European Union, along the lines of EuroNews.

We hereby announce that the Third Conference of Mediterranean Journalists shall be held in Athens under the aegis of the JUADN (Journalists Union of Athens Daily News).

The journalists from the Mediterranean rim propose to set up a provisional committee of the IFJ member group of Mediterranean unions, comprising:

Antonio Velluto: FNSI Coordinator;

Younes Moujahid: SNPM, member of the executive committee of the IFJ;

Fanny Petralia: JUADN, member;

Juan Antonio Prieto: FAPE, member of the IFJ executive committee, member;

Mario Guastoni: SNJ, member of the IFJ executive committee, member;

The IFJ's regional office in Algers, member;

Cyprus: member.

Rabat, 3 December 1999