The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses strong concerned by the hearing procedure carried out by an ad hoc council of the All China Journalist Association (ACJA) that could jeopardise the life of a journalist.
On January 29, ACJA, which operates under the direction of the Communist Party of China, announced that three media outlets in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">China</st1:country-region></st1:place> had produced “false reporting”. No further information was provided with the announcement, though it did name one of the journalists involved as Chai Huiqun of Southern Weekly. Chai immediately refuted the claims with a message on his Weibo account and questioned the integrity of the council. However, the IFJ understands he was then forced to delete the message.
Chai told the IFJ that the council was flawed, including its hearing procedures. He said that a representative of ACJA asked him to provide information of the news informers but did not invite one of the interviewees to the hearing, despite the interviewee volunteered to attend. Chai said that the most frustrating part he found was the conflict of interest between members of the council had and the Chinese Medical Doctor Association who lodged the initial complaint of false reporting. A number of council members are association with the Association including working as law consultants.
The ACJA website does not list the council as one of his bodies, nor does it mention its objectives, purpose or structure. ACJA is under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and has a duty to promote the ideology of communism, with 18 ex-ACJA committee members now been either members of the Communist Party or working for state media. Several veteran journalists in Mainland China said they were unaware that such a council even existed.
Chai said: “I don’t know whether my press card would be cancelled by the authority due to this decision. I however believe that such allegations should be dealt with through a proper legal procedure instead of an ad hoc council under ACJA.”
The IFJ Asia Pacific said: “Proper procedure, impartiality, no conflict of interest and transparency are the fundamental factors when organizing a press hearing. The ACJA links to the Communist Party of China muddies the waters if there is not a clear and transparent procedural guidelines and charter.”
The IFJ urges ACJA to withdraw the council decision and establish a new council which can re-hear the complaints in a fair and impartial environment. The IFJ also states that part of ACJA’s duty should be to respect and independently oversee the media profession without the influence by external parties.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
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