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Defiant Journalists Back Ethical Campaign for Palestinian Media

November 13, 2009

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today concluded the launch of its programme to support ethical journalism in Palestine with a series of proposals to strengthen independent media even in the face of political difficulties.

The launch conference of the IFJ Ethical Journalism Initiative, held in Ramallah on the West Bank, adopted a programme that includes fresh initiatives to help improve media standards and to carve out an independent role for journalists who face an enormous range of political problems caused by the Israeli occupation and infighting between Palestinian political groups in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

"This meeting hammered home a strong message -- journalists are determined to defend their rights and are committed to high standards," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "At the same time they are committed to fighting political interference in their work."

The conference concluded with proposals for local workshops on journalism and publication of a series of short manuals and guidelines on ethical questions. There are also plans for a Palestinian Journalism Review which will independently monitor the state of the media and journalism.

"These proposals, which we will develop in co-operation with local partners, are a sign that Palestinian journalism is on the move," said White. "The meeting underlined the importance of moves towards re-launching the Palestine Journalists Syndicate (PJS), through a transparent and inclusive process, as a vital part of creating a united front for independent journalism."

The launch of the IFJ campaign had been disrupted by the Hamas Government which banned a simultaneous meeting in Gaza. They justified their action by claiming that it could not proceed without their co-operation. As a result around 50 Gaza journalists were unable to join the Ramallah meeting by video link. The IFJ also condemned the hostile questioning of PJS leader Sakher Abu el Oun yesterday by Hamas officials for his role in trying to organise the meeting in Gaza.

"We shall do everything we can to ensure that Gaza journalists are part of this work," said White. "We will try again over the next few weeks to hold a meeting on the spot in Gaza."

The IFJ says that intimidation of journalists by the political authorities is intolerable and has to stop. The Federation is calling for all restrictions on journalists in Gaza and the West Bank to be lifted. There is particularly concern over the continued Hamas ban on a number of media organisations in Gaza since 2007.

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

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