Asia: Russian Federation

The Antiterrorist Convention

Current Status: unknown

(Rules of conduct for the media in cases of terrorist acts and counter-terrorist operations" adopted in 2003 by the "Industrial Committee" representing the leading Russian media).

To provide society with trustworthy information the media have the right and are duty-bound to assist an open discussion of the problem of terrorism, to inform society of the course of counter-¬terrorist operations, to carry out investigations and communicate to people information on real problems and conflicts.

We are confident that the threat of terrorism should not be used as an excuse or justification for the imposition of restrictions of the rights to freedom of opinion and the mass media.

At the same time, conscious of the danger associated with terrorism, as well as the responsibility of work with information in these conditions, we consider it necessary to voluntarily adopt the following rules of conduct for the media and undertake to be guided by them in our work:

1. Media workers are bound to understand that at the period of a terrorist act and a counter¬¨-terrorist operation, the rescue of people and the right of a person to life are primary in comparison with any other rights and freedoms.

2. In the case of obtaining information about a terrorist act under preparation or about its beginning a journalist is bound to communicate it to the administration of his medium before the publication of that information.

3. Journalists must have with them and produce at first demand a press card or another document identifying the person and the profession.

4. The administration of the media is bound immediately to place at the disposal of the Operational Headquarters or official authorities the information that has become known to them, which could be used to rescue people.

  1. Presuming that access to the media with the purpose of stating their position in the majority of cases is one of the chief objectives of terrorists, the media shall not:

    • interview terrorists on their own initiative during a terrorist act, except when requested or authorised by the Operational Headquarters;

    • provide terrorists with a possibility to go live on air without preliminary consultations with the Operational Headquarters;

    • independently assume the role of a mediator (with the exception of cases when this is sanctioned or done at the request of the Operational Headquarters); if a media representative has found himself among the negotiators, he shall refrain from his  own publications until the crisis has been resolved;

    • take arms into hands or put on a camouflage or any other uniform; media workers have to understand that by taking arms into hands they cease to be such;

    • invite terrorists, hostages or other persons involved in the conflict to take any actions for the obtaining of successful video sequences or photographs;

    • insult or humiliate the terrorists in whose hands are the lives of the hostages.

The media shall:

  • remember that live television or radio broadcasts can be used by terrorists for transmitting prearranged signals to their accomplices in other locations;

  • avoid detailed accounts of the actions of the professionals engaged in the rescuing of people;

  • be tactful and considerate towards the feelings of the relatives and loved ones of the victims of terrorism;

  • avoid unnecessary naturalism in showing the scene of the event and its participants, and treat with respect the moral, national and religious feelings of their audiences;

  • be careful about what terms to use in coverage of events; there should be no knuckling under to the terrorists using self-designations advantageous for them;

  • be aware of the fact that the hostages of terrorists are also the hostages of the situation, at a certain moment becoming an instrument of pressure on public opinion;

  • avoid the identification of relatives and friends of the hostages and potential victims without their consent.

In coverage of terrorist acts and antiterrorist operations, it is also necessary to:

  • remember the duty to inform the public, not spread panic; take note of not only the meaning of what is being said, but also of the tone;

  • remember that media reports are accessible to all, including those who are intentionally creating a critical situation;

  • take into account the fact that the world community rejects linking terrorism to any particular religion, race or nationality;

  • understand that communications shall not contain any information which could be conducive to the strengthening of the terrorists' positions, for example, statements in support of their demands. Such stringent requirements can apply solely to the situations associated with a direct threat to the lives of people, and may not apply to events of a political, economic or social struggle being waged within the bounds of the Constitution.

8. The media can tell their audiences that a part of the information is made confidential by the Operational Headquarters during the conduct of the counter-terrorist operation out of security considerations for the preservation of people's lives. Exceptions to these rules are only possible in the name of the preservation of people's lives with the sanction of the Operational Headquarters.