Pakistan – Code of practice (2002)

Ethical code of practice for Pakistani journalists, issued by the military government of President General Pervez Musharraf on 26 October 2002. It is part of the Press Council of Pakistan Ordinance, which calls for a Press Council, a supposedly autonomous and independent body headed by a government appointee, to resolve complaints of and about the press.

The Press Council of Pakistan has been mandated with implementing the following 17-point Ethical Code of Practice:

(1) The press shall strive to uphold standards of morality, and must avoid plagiarism and publication of slanderous and libellous material.

(2) The press shall strive to publish and disclose all essential and relevant facts and ensure that the information it disseminates is fair and accurate.

(3) The press shall avoid biased reporting or publication of unverified material, and avoid the expression of comments and conjecture as established fact, generalization based on the behaviour of an individual or a small number of individuals will be termed unethical.

(4) The press shall respect the privacy of individuals and shall do nothing which tantamounts to an intrusion into private, family life and home.

(5) Rumours and unconfirmed reports shall be avoided and if at all published shall be identified as such.

(6) The information, including picture, disseminated shall be true and accurate.

(7) The press shall avoid originating, printing, publishing and disseminating any material, which encourages or incites discrimination or hatred on grounds of race, religion, caste, sect, nationality, ethnicity, gender, disability, illness, or age, of an individual or group.

(8) The press shall not lend itself to the projection of crime as heroic and the criminals as heroes.

(9) The press shall avoid printing, publishing or disseminating any material, which may bring into contempt Pakistan or its people or tends to undermine its sovereignty or integrity as an independent country.

(10) The press shall not publish or disseminate any material or expression, which is violative of Article 19 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

(11) The press shall rectify promptly any harmful inaccuracies, ensure that corrections and apologies receive due prominence and afford the right of reply to persons criticized or commented upon when the issue is of sufficient importance.

(12) While reporting on medical issues, care must be taken to avoid sensationalism, which could arouse baseless fears or false hopes in the readers. Early research finding should not be presented as though they were conclusive or almost conclusive.

(13) Sensationalism of violence and brutalities shall be avoided. All reporting shall be accurate, particularly when court proceedings are covered and an accused person must not be presented as guilty before judgment has been pronounced.

(14) In the cases of sexual offences and heinous crime against children, juveniles and women, names and identifying photographs shall not be published.

(15) Confidentiality agreed upon at briefings and background interviews must be observed.

(16) The press while publishing findings of opinion polls and surveys shall indicate the matter of people, geographical area on which the polls and surveys were conducted, and the identity of the poll-sponsor.

(17) Any kind of privilege or inducement, financial or otherwise, which is likely to create conflict of interest and any inducement offered to influence the performance of professional duties and is not compatible with the concept of a reputable, independent and responsible press, must be avoided.

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