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South Asian journalists' network adopts regional media charter

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

South Asian Journalists' Network Adopts Regional Media Charter

A significant new program of solidarity among South Asia's journalists and press freedom organisations was initiated as journalists' representatives from six countries in the region agreed on a South Asia Media Charter at a meeting of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The Charter for a Democratic and Pluralist Media Culture and Social and Professional Rights for Media and Journalism in South Asia commits signatories to promote fair, balanced and independent media dedicated to editorial independence, diversity in the media, public service values in journalism, social dialogue. It also incorporates a plan of action for defending the rights of journalists and media, and striving for decent working conditions.

The Charter is open for signature by journalists' organisations and media freedom bodies across South Asia, and new partners are encouraged to sign on.

Click to read the SAMSN Charter: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/assets/docs/221/090/6509ddd-ac2635a.pdf

Meeting on September 4-6, the SAMSN delegates renewed their commitment to develop deeper and stronger bonds with the region's media community to defend and strengthen press freedom and the public's right to information.

Organised by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) with support from Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), the meeting also discussed strategies to achieve SAMSN's priority goals of gender equity and social diversity in the media, as well as actions to strengthen trade unions representing journalists and media workers in the region.

The press freedom situation in the six countries represented - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - was assessed, with a focus on stepping up efforts to strengthen a regional media rights monitoring network. Representatives from Afghanistan were unable to attend.

The participants also jointly stressed SAMSN's concerns about the safety of journalists and media workers and restrictions on the media in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and called on state authorities to respect and honour the principles of a free media and to be fully transparent in dealing with all incidents of violence targeting media.

"The serious press freedom challenges in all countries of South Asia can best be addressed successfully when the media community unites across borders to promote press freedom and professionalism, and works together to defend the rights of journalists to report the truth without risk and to enjoy decent working conditions and fair representation," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

"SAMSN's adoption of a region-wide Media Charter is a significant step forward in building solidarity among journalists' organisations and press freedom bodies across South Asia to achieve these aims."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries.

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