This code was originally drafted in 1991 by the Association of Guinean Journalists (AJG). In 2004, it was updated by OGUIDEM, the country’s media observatory – or press council, so as to take into account new developments like an abundance of private print media, satellite TV and the internet.
1. The Legal Rules
In 1991, Parliament gave the CNC (National Council for Communication) disciplinary powers in the media field. Thus, according to Article 24 of the Act creating that institution, the CNC can withdraw any journalist’s professional ID card
1. If he/she has received a sentence involving loss of civil rights and that conviction has not been amnestied.
2. If he/she has committed a professional fault, whose seriousness is to be estimated by the CNC.
Short of withdrawing the card, the Council can also decide disciplinary sanctions according to Article 37 § 2 of the above-mentioned Act.
Those sanctions can be, in ascending order: a formal notice, a warning and a temporary suspension. To be noted is that all decisions by the CNC can be appealed to the Supreme Court. But the cleaning up of the profession is predicated on the active participation of journalists via the activities of the AJG and the monitoring by OGUIDEM of the respect of specific professional rules.
The right to information, to freedom of expression and to criticism is one of the fundamental liberties of every human being, one of the foundations of a society based on democracy, justice and freedom.
The need for him/her to do his/her job correctly entitles the journalist to training that will give him/her an adequate knowledge of professional techniques and will open his/her mind to other horizons. The Guinean journalist fully deserves decent economic conditions and a salary large enough to guarantee his material and moral independence. He/she is entitled to work safely. In the course of his professional activities, a journalist must be protected against any attack that could endanger him/her physically.
In the gathering, processing and publishing of information, the responsibility of a journalist towards the public takes preceden¬ce over any other responsibility towards State or private decision-makers. It must be acknowledged that there are some limits to the journalists’ mission to inform, which they can set to themselves for the sake of national unity, peace and social cohesion.
It is obvious that journalists will fully assume their duties in the exercise of their job only if they benefit from the material conditions of independence and professional dignity. So the responsibilities of journalists include the obligation to do their job with intelligence, objectivity, honesty, fairness and absence of bias.
Journalists must at all times show respect for the dignity, the privacy, the rights of people, as they seek and publish information. Such is the object of the present code which lists the rights and duties of Guinean journalists.
3. The Rights of Journalists
In doing his job, a journalist is entitled to the following fundamental rights:
1. The Right to Expression:
A journalist has the right to express his thoughts in a given situation.
2. The Right of Access to Sources of Information:
So as to inform better, a journalist has the right to be informed and thus he/she will publish credible news.
3. The Right to Protect News Sources:
A journalist has a right to endeavour by all means to keep his sources of information anonymous. He/she is committed to protect them even if sources deceive him/her.
4. The Right to Refuse:
A journalist has a right to refuse any subordination, any manipulation [sic] that would be contrary to truth, to his own convictions and to the editorial policy of the medium which employs him/her.
5. The Right to a Press Card:
To exercise his profession, a journalist is entitled to a press card issued by the relevant authority.
4. The Duties of Journalists
The fundamental duties of a journalist as he/she collects, processes and publishes information are the following:
1. To respect the accuracy of facts, whatever the consequences may be, holding in mind that the public is entitled to know the truth.
2. To publish only information whose origin, truth and accuracy have been checked.
3. Not to put him/herself in a conflict of interest: a journalist must distinguish his/her professional interest and his/her personal interest.
4. To abstain from suppressing information, distorting facts, alter texts and documents so as to obtain favours, material advantages or a promotion.
5. To respect people’s privacy.
6. To practise his profession openly except in cases when dissimulation is indispensable either to obtain information of public interest or to protect his/her safety.
7. To abstain from slander, plagiarism, libel and unfounded accusations.
8. Not to confuse the profession of journalist with that of advertiser or propagandist.
9. Not to accept any direct or indirect instruction from advertisers aiming to influence his/her professional conscience: abstain from covert advertising.
10. To reject all pressures and to accept editorial orders only from the head of the newsroom; to conform to the editorial policy of the medium which employs him/her.
11. To adopt in his/her private as well as in his/her public life, a behaviour such as will honour the profession and the judgement of his peers [sic].
5. The Journalistic Brotherhood
It is recommended that in the exercise of their profession journalists should
1. promote unity and solidarity among themselves,
2. work towards an exchange of experiences between print journalists and broadcast journalists ;
3. abstain from personal attacks;
4. abstain from blackmailing fellow journalists.