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IFJ Puts Ethical Journalism on Middle East Media Agenda

April 16, 2009

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has launched a programme of work to strengthen ethical and independent journalism in the Middle East with the opening of a regional office in Bahrain at the weekend.

The IFJ says the new office - backed by the Bahrain Journalists' Association and journalists' groups across the Middle East and North Africa - will spearhead practical actions to eliminate legal obstacles to media freedom and raise awareness of how quality journalism can provide the backbone for democratic reform across the region.

"Journalism needs to break free of political control and return to its professional roots," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It will do that by reinforcing the role of media at the heart of open society, where people are free to speak their minds and where truth-telling is seen as a public good."

In an open letter to Shaikh Khalifa bin SalmanAl Khalifa, Prime Minister of Bahrain, and to Khalifa Al Dharhrani, the speaker of the Parliament, White called for the country's Parliament to endorse a new media law which will remove the possibility of criminal prosecution of journalists.

"The IFJ is pleased to have the centre of its regional ethical campaign based in Bahrain," he said. "We know that journalists and media in Bahrain are ready to play a leading role in creating new models for value-based journalism in the Arab world and this work will be made stronger when the Parliament in Bahrain finally adopts the new media law."

The IFJ says that similar laws need to be adopted across the region in order to "create a new landscape for open, committed and public interest journalism."

A meeting of IFJ affiliates from 12 countries (Morocco, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Emirate, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran and Yemen) to launch the new office, which will co-ordinate a programme of seminars, workshops and professional training on ethical journalism issues, prepared a report on legal obstacles to press freedom. The Breaking the Chains report and campaign will be part of the IFJ expanded programme in the region aimed at creating new dialogues with governments and civil society groups while working to improve standards in the newsroom.

For further information contact IFJ on +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: +32 2 235 2207

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