Palestine: Authorities halt a bill to establish a Higher Media Council

The Palestinian government agreed on January 21 not to publish in the Official Bulletin a Bill on the creation of a Higher Media Council. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), representing more than 600,000 journalists in the world, supports its affiliate the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) , in its urgent call on Palestinian authorities to relaunch consultations with the media sector before passing any law.

The Bill aimed at creating a Higher Media Council responsible for regulating all forms of media in Palestine. Attempts by the Palestinian government to control the functioning of the regulatory body and its composition has led to serious criticisms from PJS. The government’s latest decision to halt its publication is seen as a first step in the right direction. However, Palestinian journalists want the government to commit itself to engage in an open and transparent process of consultation with the union and media professionals.

"The IFJ is very proud of the strong campaign waged by our colleagues to champion a credible accountability system based on self-regulation which forced the Palestinian authorities to do a u-turn so quickly," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "We urge the Abbas government to open genuine consultations with the PJS and with media professionals on setting up a system of self-regulation that is independent from political or economic forces and embedded in universal standards for ethical and quality journalism and responsible use of information."

The PJS stressed the importance of such a body to guaranty press freedom in Palestine. “Establishing a Higher Media Council is an important step towards the strengthening of freedom of expression, the fulfilment of journalists’ work and the independence of the media,” according to the PJS.

The IFJ warns that media regulatory bodies can only be effective when they are independent from executive authorities and include a majority of media professionals and civil society in their boards. The Federation congratulates the PJS for its commitment to defending press freedom and media independence in the region.

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries

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