Code of Ethics of the Association of Journalists of Guatemala, approved on 27 November 2000.
Explanation of motives
During long periods in Guatemala’s history, freedom of expression has been a severely limited right. Many intellectuals, journalists, writers, and poets have been subject to imprisonment, exile, torture, threats, the obligatory shutting down of their media, and the sacrifice of their lives. When institutional stability was restored, the possibility of exercising individual rights and freedoms emerged. The incipient democracy is being strengthened, and there has been a reaffirmation of the conviction that the consolidation and development of democracy depend upon the existence of freedom of expression, open debate of ideas and opinions, and individuals’ access to information.
The Association of Journalists of Guatemala (APG) resolved to elaborate and institute the present Declaration of Principles of the Journalist as an instrument of self-regulation, and an alternative to the eventual regulatory mechanisms of the State.
The discussion and elaboration of this Declaration relied on technical assistance from the Association for the Development of the Media (ADCS) and the support of Incidence Project of Creative Associates International (CAII, in Guatemala), financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
This Declaration was debated and decided upon during various workshops, with the participation of citizens with diverse ideas. APG finally approved it in the Extraordinary General Assembly of 27 November 2000.
Chapter I – Information: Society’s Right
Article 1. Information is considered to be a public interest good. The journalist must provide this service in a timely manner, so that it may be a useful resource for the development of the citizenry and for the full exertion of their rights.
Article 2. Freedom of expression and the right to information are democratic norms consecrated in international and national legislation, and so the journalist should know them, defend them, and promote them.
Chapter II – Dedication to the Truth
Article 3. The journalist holds the truth as an unwavering norm. In accomplishing his/her work, the journalist must behave in a manner that will allow this principle to be shared and accepted by all.
Article 4. The journalist’s credibility is tied to his/her dedication to the truth, the search for accuracy, objectivity, fairness, and the clear differentiation between commercial messages and journalistic information.
Article 5. The journalist must respect the norms that he/she requires of others, admit mistakes, and avoid arrogance in the search for information.
Chapter III – Responsibility to Democracy and Development
Article 6. The journalist should contribute to collective development, which will lead to the full participation of men and women in society and the respect of democratic principles, with the aim of finding new forms of solidarity, dialogue, and cooperation.
Article 7. The journalist has the responsibility to support the strengthening of peace and national international understanding; promote human rights; avoid any form of racism, discrimination, or hate of any kind; and strive for the improvement of democratic life and for respect of cultural diversity.
Chapter IV – The Journalist’s Obligations to the Public
Article 8. Public access to information must by guaranteed via the diversity of sources and of the available mass media, allowing all individuals to verify the accuracy of facts and base their opinions on this knowledge. The public has the right to the truth.
Article 9. All news must correspond to the facts. It must be complete, without the unnecessary suppression or diminishment of any aspects of it, and placed within a context that allows the public to form a general idea of the news.
Article 10. The journalist must encourage comprehension of the living conditions of the public, and contrast them to prevailing models that present a false perception of reality.
Article 11. The journalist will respect the private life, image, and reputation of individuals, as well as their convictions and customs. The public must be protected from slander, insult, and defamation.
Article 12. The journalist should watch over the fulfilment of the Law on the Emission of Thought, regarding the right of all individuals to explanations, corrections, rebuttals, or criticism, when inaccurate facts are attributed to them.
Chapter V – The Journalist and the Union
Article 13. The journalist has the imperative duty to strengthen journalistic unions and professional organizations, so that the aims and principles that led to their creation are fulfilled, and so that they are made compatible with the interests of society as a whole.
Article 14. The journalist must exhibit solidarity with his/her colleagues in the exercise of the profession, especially when they are subject to persecution or become victims of actions that violate their human, professional, and labour rights, according to the national and international definition of these rights.
Article 15. When defending freedom of expression or the right of all citizens to receive and transmit information, the journalist should count on the support of press organizations, so as to ensure that this democratic principle remain unscathed.
Article 16. The journalist must act with a spirit of solidarity and fraternity, avoiding all actions that might affect the dignity of other colleagues or that might harm them morally or materially.
Article 17. The journalist should adhere to the ethics of the profession, and avoid payments or other forms of bribery that are discredited by the union. The journalist may not take advantage of his/her condition to obtain personal privileges or advantages.
Chapter VI – The Journalist and the Company
Article 18. When contracting with a company, the journalist should consolidate the relationship through a work contract which clearly defines his/her rights and duties, which should be in accordance with the laws and of the Republic and International Conventions signed by Guatemala, and with this Declaration of Principles. The journalist should require dignified treatment from the company, and acknowledgement of the value and importance of the journalistic profession to society.
Article 19. The journalist has the right to his/her beliefs, ideas, and opinions.
Article 20. The journalist should not accept any unilateral modification of the meaning or nature of his/her informative material. The journalist should assume, together with the company, responsibility for all of the material he/she produces and which is distributed through the media, without the material having undergone modifications contrary to the will of the author.
Article 21. The journalist has the right to maintain the anonymity of his/her sources and to make use of the conscience clause in his/her contractual relations.
Article 22. The journalist has the right to express his/her opinions or analysis in the editorial sections of the media at which he/she is employed.
Article 23. The journalist must make an effort to participate in the definition and application of the editorial line, and seek to make it compatible with national and collective interests.
Article 24. The journalist should protect the right, guaranteed in the Constitution of the Republic, to use socio-economic cover in the face of the risks of the profession.
Chapter VII – The Journalist and the State
Article 25. The journalist should look favourably upon the construction of a democratic state and of the true guarantee of freedom of expression and the right to information. The State must assure the exercise of these individual rights as an indispensable requirement for the existence of a democratic society.
Article 26. The journalist should fight against any form of monopoly or oligopoly in the media, since these practices limit the full exercise of the citizens’ right to information.
Article 27. The journalist should value the right of every person to be informed about the acts of the public administration, and exercise legal resources against public officials whose actions negatively affect free access to sources of information.
Article 28. The journalist must fight against any regime or authority which violates the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, and justice.
Article 29. The journalist must encourage respect for legitimately established laws, institutions, and authorities.
Chapter VIII – The Promotion of Values and Human Rights
Article 30. The journalist must contribute to the construction of an inclusive Nation. In his/her daily work, the journalist should contemplate, assume, and practice multiculturalism, the diversity of languages, and the recognition and equality of all indigenous towns and communities.
Article 31. The journalist must reject violence, discrimination, and all stereotypes based on race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geographic origin, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, or social or political condition.
Article 32. The journalist should contribute to the democratisation of the media so as to increase the participation of the people, and to strengthen identity and the culture of peace, through the right to the free expression of thought
Chapter IX – Final Dispositions
Article 33. The journalist must make an effort to ensure that the present Declaration of Principles is displayed publicly in places of work, and that its principles be duly spread.
Article 34. The members of the Association of Journalists of Guatemala (APG) must accept and practice the Principles of this Declaration.
Article 35. When admitted to the Association of Journalists of Guatemala (APG), the journalist will have to make a solemn oath that he/she will faithfully adhere to this Declaration of Principles.
Article 36. The APG will promote the adherence of other unions to the present Declaration of Principles.