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Journalists Endorse Draft Declaration of Best Practices for Press Work; Demand Better Media Environment

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25 November 2008 |Reference 53/2008

In a workshop organized by Al Mezan as part of a project on promoting free expression and press in Gaza, journalists discussed and adopted a draft declaration of the best practices for the work of press.
The declaration is the outcome of discussions and recommendations made by 115 journalists and university graduates majoring in media studies, who took part in five training courses held by Al Mezan Center as part of the 'Promotion of Freedom of Expression and Media Work in Gaza' project, which is supported by care International's Tazeez project.
The aim of the project is to raise journalists' awareness of human rights, especially the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the freedom of press, and enhance journalists' role in ensuring respect for human rights throughout their work.
The workshop follows a first workshop that was organized by the Center on 6 November 2008, in which a first draft was discussed by journalists and human rights activists.
In the second workshop, a number of journalists noted down remarks on the declaration's articles.
Some of them demanded dividing the declaration into sections that separately tackle the best practices for journalists, media institutions and the ruling authorities, which impact the freedom of press, or drafting other detailed declarations for each of them.
They expressed their hope that the declaration will be endorsed by other journalists in order to overcome the current crisis the Palestinian media live.
They asked to develop a law that protects the freedom of press work and organizes the work of all the media.
They also called for activating the press syndicate and called the two governments in Gaza and Ramallah to respect the freedom of the press.
The workshop moderator, Mr.
Samir Zaqout, Coordinator of Al Mezan's Field Work Unit, explored the project's activities and phases of its implementation.
Al Mezan launched the project in January this year after it noticed that the status of the right of freedom of expression and opinion and freedom of the press had deteriorated.
Zaqout said that the project raised journalists' awareness of human rights, especially the rights to the freedom of the press afforded in all international conventions and domestic laws, by holding 5 training courses that targeted journalists and media studies graduates in the Gaza Strip.
The project also included monitoring and documenting violations against journalists and the right to freedom of expression and opinion in the Gaza Strip.
Zaqout said that the Center issued a number of periodical reports documenting the violations against journalists in 2007 and 2008.
The Center also provided support and legal aid to a number of journalists who were arrested or whose rights were violated, he added.
He promised the participants to amend the declaration in view of their valuable remarks and circulate it to other journalists.
He also promised to search into mechanisms to circulate it to media institutions and factions.
He expressed his hope that the declaration would be of interest to journalists and the Palestinian media in order to develop and endorse it.