Code of Conduct, adopted by the Congolese National Press Union in March 2004 and published by the Congolese Media Observatory in February 2005.
– As we adhere to the Munich Declaration,
– Convinced as we are that the right to information, to free expression and criticism is one of the fundamental liberties of
every human being, and that all the rights and duties of journalists proceed from the right of the public to know the facts and opinions,
– Conscious that the responsibility of journalists towards the public takes precedence over any other responsibility, especially towards their employers or the authorities – and that there are, necessarily, limits to the mission of informing spontaneously set by journalists themselves,
– Concerned that those rights be respected in the exercise of the journalistic profession and that the necessary material conditions of professional independence and dignity be achieved and respected,
We, Congolese journalists, meeting as National Conference of the Press from March 1 to 5, 2004, have adopted the present code which lists the rights and duties of the Congolese journalist.
The Duties of Journalists
A good journalist must:
Article 1. Work at all times for the freedom to collect, process and distribute news, opinions,comments and criticisms; that freedom being inseparable from the public’s right to be informed and to freely express opinions.
Article 2. In his/her daily tasks, show fairness, accuracy, honesty,a sense of responsibilities, independence and decency as he/she reports facts about individuals or society.
Article 3. Deal with all issues without bias and present all controversial topics impartially.
Article 4. Accept full responsibility for any text (written or spoken) that is published with his/her byline or with his/her consent, or over his/her own pseudonym.
Article 5. Totally abstain, in the daily exercise of his/her profession, from insult, libel,malicious gossip, slander, unsupported accusations, alteration of documents, distortion of facts,lies, incitement to hatred (religious, ethnic, tribal, regional or racial) as well as the eulogy of any negative value.
Article 6. At all times seek the triumph of truth by an accurate, honest, and fair report of ascertained and verified facts – and of news obtained without threatening, or abusing the good faith of, anyone.
Article 7. Not accept any gift from news sources, any advantage or present given to obtain publication or non-publication of a piece of news, or any reward for the publication,distortion or suppression of news.
Article 8. Identify all sources of information, deal with them critically, cite them or protect those that explicitly request secrecy, and also cite colleagues whose material he/she has used.
Article 9. Not alter,distort or warp, by the expression of them, by overstressing, magnifying,omitting or manipulating, other people’s opinions, headlines or comments that must be dealt with impartially and in good faith.
Article 10. Spontaneously rectify any news item that proves to be,partly or entirely, inaccurate and obtain publication, at no cost and with no rejoinder, the corrections, elaborations, contradictory reactions and”rights of reply” requested by persons cited in his/her reports.
Article 11. Respect human dignity, privacy and individuals’ intimate sphere, as well as public institutions and authorities, public order and good moral standards.
Article 12. Promote national culture,civic responsibility and republican virtues of tolerance, pluralism of opinion and democracy – as well as the universal values of humanism: peace, equality,human rights, social progress.
Article 13. Show restraint in the presentation of facts that might jeopardise the vital interests of the State and of society.
Article 14. Show solidarity towards fellow journalists and defer to decisions or instructions issued by the top councils of the profession.
Article 15. Abstain from publishing corrections concerning articles he/she never published.
The Rights of Journalists
Every journalist must claim the following rights:
Article 16. The protection of his/her news sources.
Article 17. Free access to all news sources and the right freely to investigate all facts that have a bearing on public life.
In that case, only exceptionally can secrecy about public or private affairs be required of the journalist, and for clearly stated motives.
Article 18. Refusal of any subordination that would be contrary to the general policy of the news medium he/she works for, as well as any subordination that is not clearly stated in that policy.
– Paragraph 1: by virtue of the”consciousness clause”, the journalist cannot be forced to accomplish a professional act or
express an opinion that would be contrary to his/her convictions, honour, reputation or moral interests.
– Paragraph 2: In case of a conflict related to the “consciousness clause”, the journalist may cancel his/her contractual commitments to the company, under the same conditions and with similar effects as in the case of a normal dismissal.
Article 19. The newsroom staff must absolutely be informed of any important decision likely to affect the life of the company. It must at least be consulted before any final decision about any measure involving the make-up of the news team: the hiring, firing, transfer and promotion of journalists.
Article 20; Considering his/her function and responsibilities, a journalist is entitled not only to benefit from collective contracts but also from a personal contract guaranteeing the material and moral security of his/her job as well as a salary in keeping with the social role that he/she assumes and sufficient to insure his/her economic independence.
Article 21. Every journalist is committed,in the exercise of his/her profession, to conform to the above listed rules. A professional Order of Journalists will take care that the present code is respected.
[Translation by Claude-Jean Bertrand; published at www.rjionline.org]