Asia: Pakistan

General Assembly of the Committee of the Press Code of Conduct

Current Status: unknown

(Adopted by the General Assembly of the Committee of the Press, 1972).

Conforming to the preamble in the United Nations International Code of Ethics, wherein it is stated:

Freedom of information and the Press is a fundamental human right and is a touchstone of all the freedoms consecrated in the Charter of the United Nations as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and it is essential to the promotion and to the preservation of peace.)

And believing that it is necessary to observe a voluntary Code of Conduct to ensure its functioning in freedom in the most beneficial manner to society, this general meeting of the Press Consultative Committee, held at Karachi on March 17, 1972, decides to adopt the principles of the Codes as herein set forth.

  1. The profession of journalism, which is a public institution should not be used as an instrument to serve anti-social ends, or interests which are not compatible with this profession, nor should it be used to the detriment of national and public interest.

  2. The following are to be avoided in any form of publication, such as articles, news items, photographs and advertisements:

a- Immorality or obscenity.

b- Vulgar and derogatory expressions against individuals, institutions or groups.

c- Libellous or false allegations against individuals, institutions, newspapers or publications.

d- Religious sectarianism; arousing one sect against another.

e- Glamorisation of crime.

  1. The right of the individual to protection of his reputation and integrity must be respected, and exposure of and comment on the private lives of individuals must be avoided unless this is imperatively in the public interest.

  2. Presentation of news items and comments on events should be fair and objective and there should be no wilful departure from facts.

  3. Headlines should not materially distort the contents of the news.

  4. Off-the-record briefings should not be published.

  5. The journalist should be entitled to protect his sources of information and respect confidence placed in him.

  6. Embargoes on release dates of news, articles and pictures, should be rigorously observed.

  7. All paid commercial announcements or advertisements should be published in such a way as to leave no doubt that they actually are paid commercial announcements or advertisements.

  8. Justified corrections or denials sent as a result of any incorrect information published by newspapers, periodicals or news agencies should be published within the shortest possible period of time so as to effectively eliminate the impression created by the original publication which necessitated the issuance of a correction or denial.

  9. The press shall not publish news or comment, photographs or advertisements which may undermine the security of the state or the solidarity of the nation.

  10. The press shall refrain from publishing anything likely to undermine the loyalty and allegiance of he Armed Forces of Pakistan.

  11. The press shall not publish anything apt to create ill-will between different sections of the people, but it shall not be construed to preclude legitimate airing of grievances.

  12. In reporting proceedings of the National and Provincial Assemblies, such portions of the proceedings as he Speaker may have ordered to be expunged from the records of the Assembly shall not be published and every effort shall be made to give the readers a fair report of what has been said by all sections of the House.

  13. In dealing with any situation, the press shall restrict itself to factual reporting of events without in any way encouraging or providing any form of disturbance.

  14. No newspaper shall accept in any form or shape any financial and pecuniary advantage or obligations from or on behalf of any foreign country or concern.

  15. The personnel of the Press must never accept any form of bribe or permit personal interest to influence their sense of justice and impartiality.

Method of Implementation

The following arrangements for the implementation of the Press Code of Ethics should be adopted:

  1. A press Court of Honour shall be set up by the Standing Committee of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors, comprising a retired High Court Judge as Chairman, and six members from among themselves, one of whom shall act as Secretary to the Court. Provided that half the members would retire each year, first retirement will be by drawing of lots. The retiring member will not be eligible for re-election before the expired of twelve calendar months from the date of retirement. A member of the Court will not participate in cases in which his own newspaper is involved.

  2. The Secretary shall:

a. Receive complaints in writing from any party that may be aggrieved by an alleged breach of code by any newspaper which is a signatory to the code.

b. Submit the complaint to the Court and at the instance of the Court ask for a report on the complaint from the editor of the newspaper complained against.

c. On the receipt of such a report, or if no report is received within 30 days, shall convene, under instruction of the Chairman of the court, a meeting of I at which representatives of the aggrieved party and the editor concerned shall be invited to be present.

d. The finding of the Court of Honour on any such complaint shall be issued in the form of a communiqué which it will be obligatory for all signatory newspapers and periodicals to publish. Failure by any signatory to publish such a communiqué will be deemed a violation of the Code and dealt with accordingly.

  1. The Court may warn or condemn the newspaper which is deemed to have contravened the code, or it may seek to reconcile the parties.

  2. In cases where a serious offence is found to have been committed, the Court can ask the competent organisations to consider the expulsion of the newspaper form the press organisation to which the newspaper belongs or withdraw its protection from the party concerned.

  3. The Chairman of he Court shall have the power to initiate proceedings suo moto in connection with any breach of the Code by any signatory.

  4. The aggrieved party – whether it be Government or a private individual – will refrain from taking any other action when it has forwarded a complaint to the Court of Honour whose findings shall be accepted.

  5. These provisions shall be applicable to all newspapers, periodicals and news agencies which become signatories to the code.

  6. Newspapers or periodicals who are not members of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors shall also be entitled to become signatories to the Code