Manama, Dec. 2 (BNA): Information and Parliament Affairs Minister Isa bin Abdulrahman Al Hammadi has affirmed that an independent, credible and objective press is one of the most important requirements for maintaining the security and stability of the nation.
The minister said that such a press, under the prevailing democratic openness and responsible freedom, would cement national unity and cohesion, foster the values of cordiality and tolerance and enhance the kingdom’s progress and prosperity.
Patronising the signing of the Charter of Press Ethics by the editors-in-chief of the local newspapers, the minister voiced deep pride in the landmark initiative, the first of its kind among the editors-in-chief of the local newspapers.
The initiative embodies the awareness of the editors-in-chief of the importance of their partnership with the Ministry of Information Affairs to ensure commitment to the professional ethics based on credibility, honesty and objectivity, as well as a pledge to taking the highest interests of the nation and the citizens into account while rejecting division, fanaticism and hatred calls, he said.
The signing of the Charter is in line with the belief of the ministry and the editors-in-chief in the importance of the enlightening message of the national Press, and its leading role in enhancing the democratic process.
It also reflects their awareness of the weight and long traditions of the Bahraini Press since the foundation of the first newspaper and the continuation of its role in supporting development and progress in various fields during His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s prosperous era, the minister added.
Al-Hammadi praised the keenness of the editors-in-chief to participate in preparing and drafting the Charter which confirms their commitment to strengthening the pillars of responsible freedom and to consolidating authentic professional journalism values.
The minister lauded the great values and principles embedded in the Charter that emanate from the spirit of the Constitution and the National Action Charter and are compatible with the international press, media and human rights conventions regarding respect for the responsible freedom of opinion and expression and prevention of incitement to violence, religious, sectarian, racist and ethnic hatred or prejudice to individuals’ dignity and private life.
The minister affirmed keenness to develop the legislative and regulatory structure of the information and communication sector through preparing a modern and enlightened draft law in coordination with the executive and legislative branches, and in partnership with press establishments to upgrade the press and media message and ensure commitment to professional and ethical regulations in light of HM the King’s sound directives.
The editors-in-chief expressed sincere thanks to the minister for his support and all-inclusive national initiative, within a framework of common desire to adhere to accuracy and objectivity while expressing opinions, cement unity and cohesion among citizens, avoid calls for discrimination, defamation or abuse of the rights, freedoms and reputation of others, and preserve national security and public morals.
The editors-in-chief of Akhbar Al-Khaleej, Al-Ayam, Al-Wasat, Al-Watan, Al-Bilad and Al-Nabaa pledged to assume their responsibilities in exercising self-censorship in applying the professional and ethical standards in preserving common human values, promoting the culture of tolerance, and respecting religious, sectarian and cultural diversity in the Bahraini society, in accordance with the Constitution and national legislation, the tolerant precepts of Islam, as well as international conventions and agreements.
Akhbar Al-Khaleej editor-in-chief Anwar Abbdulrahman lauded the Charter, noting that press establishments are first and foremost providers of news; not political or religious institutions.
He stressed that constructive criticism is one of the manifestation of freedom of expression, but should not be exercised at the expense of the nation.
Al-Ayam editor-in-chief Isa Al-Shaiji welcomed the signing of the Charter and expressed hope that all parties will be committed to consolidating national unity, despite the challenging situation in the region.
Al-Wasat editor-in-chief Dr. Mansour Al-Jamri said the Charter was based on HM the King’s directives and the provisions of the Constitution which, he said, venerates the citizens and their dignity and protects their rights within the law, urging commitment to implementing the royal directives.
Al-Bilad editor-in-chief Moanes Al-Mardi said the Charter builds on the charter signed by journalists in 2011, noting that the 2015 charter will be successful, being based on the visions of all editors-in-chief.
Al-Watan editor-in-chief Youssef Al-BinKhalil said the Charter has become necessary to regulate the press work in the kingdom in order to face regional challenges, affirming that it will contribute to rationalising the media discourse in the kingdom.
Al-Nabaa editor-in-chief Abdulmonem Almeer thanked the Ministry of Information Affairs for its support and patronage of the signing of the Charter, noting that it will develop journalism in Bahrain.
The Charter of Press Ethics stipulates the following principles:
– Consolidating bonds of cordiality and national unity among all segments of society, preserving national unity and stability to serve national interests and avoiding any tendencies to disseminate the spirit of discrimination, defamation, sedition or divisions among social spectra in all circumstances.
– Preventing incitement to hatred or contempt of a sect or a group of people or incitement that leads to disruption of public order, sparking divisions within society or undermining national unity.
– Ensuring credibility and responsible press freedom in a manner that does not infringe on Islamic beliefs, national interests, social values or traditions.
– Making sure that the information and facts to be published are credible and valid, and maintaining national identity and unity among all segments of society.
– Commitment to ensuring that the newspaper is not used as a tool to ignite division or sectarianism or serves as a platform to encroach on the privacy of others or outraging the modesty of society.
– Refraining from publishing rumours and unconfirmed information as facts, and not publishing abusive allegations that intend to cause harm to others.
– Commitment to not causing harm to the interests of brotherly and friendly Islamic and Arab countries, in accordance with international treaties and conventions.
– Making sure that only non-controversial and professional words, diction and images are used, and ensuring no prejudice to beliefs, feelings and public morals.
– Ensuring professional accuracy, credibility and impartiality while writing, editing and processing media information, materials, images and depictions, and avoiding defamation or religious, ethic, political or social discrimination.
– Avoiding the publication and promotion of sectarian expressions and doctrinal classification, as well as articles that spark sectarian convulsion, accuse social segments of treason, ignite sectarian strife or aim at sowing divide.
– Commitment by all newspapers, media personnel and journalists to assume their personal responsibilities in implementing the professional principles and ethical values of media freedom and taking responsibility towards offences to religious beliefs, moral values, defamation or discrimination against any member or segment of the society.