By Sami Zaptia.
Hammamet, Tunisia, 23 January:
A ‘Forum on the Code of Ethics for Journalists in the Maghreb Region’ opened today in . . .[restrict]Hammamet, Tunisia.
The forum which will run for two days, was sponsored by the EU Delegation of Tunisia, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Over 40 media representatives comprising media owners, editors, journalists and photographers from Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Germany, USA and the EU were present.
From Libya, Febrayer newspaper, Libya al-Jadida newspaper, Tripoli FM radio station, the Press Support Association, as well as Libya Herald were present.
In his opening remarks, Taieb Zahar, president of the Tunisian Journalists Association, said that ‘’editors and journalists have a responsibility . This will be a code of ethics made by journalists for journalists. We must look at what others have done and share some of this experience in order to benefit the Maghrebian press’’.
Laura Baeza, head of the EU in Tunisia noted that the ‘‘region is going through a transition. The EU has tried to help the transition process. Civil society organisations are called upon to play an important role and therefore creating a code of ethics is part of this transition. It cannot be separated from the new domestic values.’’
‘’Journalists have an important role to play in presenting cultures in order to conduct public perception. These are not abstracts. By affecting conditions, we have to be aware of these images. The power of journalists is very strong and can create or destroy. Therefore the media must be aware of this. Therefore, the liberties of freedom of expression need mechanics as code of ethics to govern behaviour and it’s for you to establish this professional code. This is going to be historical for Maghrebian press.’’
Elizabeth Braun of the Fredrich Ebhart Foundation, which has a presence in Libya, said that ‘‘freedom of journalists is very important and Maghrebi solidarity is the starting point for a cross border framework.’’
Hassan Arfaoui , the Chairman of the Code of Ethics Drafting Committee said that
‘‘Organising a media conference during Ben Ali’s time was like trying to organise a conference on pluralism in North Korea. We see an end to of state monopoly in the media now. There is political, social and religious pressure on journalists in our countries. Learning freedom is harder than obtaining it sometimes. It is not the freedom to just say anything. I hope we can reach a consensus on a Maghrebi charter of ethics.’’
The Forum continues. [/restrict]