Middle East: Bahrain

Bahrain Journalists Association: Code of Ethics

Current Status: active

Overall principles and guidelines:

Free and responsible journalism is the very essence of sound and democratic society and an integral and indivisible part of basic human rights and freedoms. It targets illumination of the public opinion, realization of the interests of the nation, defense of the nation's unity, security and stability and avoidance of secular division or prejudice to the established Islamic Shariah dictates.
Accuracy, credibility and transparency are the bedrocks of successful journalism and media work. This can be achieved through verification of the journalistic news and coverage in the absence of fallacies, slander, defamation, falsification of facts or misinformation of the public opinion, amplified by the right to respond or comment as a necessity to earn the respect and confidence of the public.
The right to get the correct and true information, including statements, images and documents through legitimate means in order to unearth the truth without infringement or violation of intellectual property rights.
Objectivity, neutrality and independence are the foundations of professional journalism, subject to respect of the principles of cultural and intellectual pluralism of the community and differentiation between abstract news coverage and expression of personal points of views or ideological persuasions and convictions.
Demonstration of respect for fair competition between the workers in the media circles in the absence of hurt feelings, incrimination, charges of betrayal and insults, coupled with due regard for professional camaraderie rights and obligations to defend the rights of journalism groups and handling of any disputes that may arise between the groups.
Advancement and promotion of journalistic ethical standards, the professional morals and honors and integrity as a national duty that every journalist and journalistic institution must commit to. Everyone must also seek to protect the public morality standards and consolidate the national unity, supremacy and dominance of the law and keeping away from sensationalism, hurting the feelings of others, publication of immoral photographs, defamation or violation of the sanctity and dignity of others.
The Bahrain Journalists Association is the sole and legitimate representative of the national press and is tasked with the defense and protection of the journalists' rights, settlement of any disputes or differences that may arise between the groups for issues which are not related to the work, in addition to monitoring and verification of the commitment by the journalism and media circles, both individuals and institutions, to the reinforcement of the journalism code of ethics

Duties and obligations:
First: the duties required of the journalists and press institutions:

All journalists and press institutions shall respect and comply with the following: 

Refrain from subscribing to racial calls, which involve disrespect or hatred for religions or which promote discrimination against or contempt for opinion or creed of a sect of the community.
Exercise accuracy, diligence and objectivity in the formulation and publication of news, information and facts in accordance with applicable journalistic norms and professional ethics. In this respect the journalist and the press and media will commit to the following standards:
a- Display the news and information free of any falsification, miss information or bad faith.
b- Attribute the statements and actions to known sources as much as possible without compromising the moral commitment to maintain the confidentiality of the information source recognized in journalism work and norms.
c- Exercise accuracy in placing the information and photographs in their real context and objective and time sequence.
d- Refrain from concealing or keeping secret the entire or part of the information which are conducive to realization of the public interest.
e- Refrain from reporting news or information which have been confirmed to be inaccurate or which is likely to cause damage to the public interest.
f- Display or project various or conflicting points of view in addressing societal events or issues in a way which meets the equilibrium of the principles of opinion and the other opinion.
g- Refrain from wording the news in a manner indicative of political or ideological or a specific sectarian affiliation bias.
h- Refrain from broadcasting unconfirmed information or information of incognito sources or which serves propaganda purposes.
i- Glaring discrimination and distinction between abstract information facts and comments thereon or between the news and the opinion.
j- Ensure that the title of the news item accurately reflects and expresses its content and observing the requirement to indicate the venue and date of the event.
The right to rebut or challenge to correct is guaranteed to any person or agency that the journalist addresses. Such challenge must be within the limits of the published material without violating the law or public decency. The press institution must allow forthwith and prominently fair opportunity for correction of the fallacies as well as offer apology for any errors or defamation.
Must show respect to the privacy of individuals. A journalist or a press institution may not use the publication means to expose the personal life of any person through defamation, tarnishing the reputation, or for realizing personal gains or levelling false and unfounded accusations. Within this context, the following shall apply:
a- Every person has a right to preserve the sanctity of his /her personal life and the right to due respect for his / her family, residence, health status and correspondence, including digital communications.
b- It shall not acceptable to photograph people without their consent, whether in private of public property.
c- Securing information or photographs using illegitimate means for the purpose of intimidation, harassment, opportunism, or extortion or assuming a pseudo personality for this purpose.
d- Interpretation of facts in bad faith or in a way designed to slander, libel or unfounded accusation or acceptance of a bribe in order to publish or otherwise conceal information.
Prohibition against publication of any advertisement whose substance is in conflict with the values and public morality and ethics of the community or the principles of Islamic Shariah. The press institution must make a distinction between the language context of the substance and the advertisement.
The journalist is required to show respect to the provisions of the constitution and the laws which relate to the rules of publication and the press, expression of opinion without  prejudice to the religious and national constants prevailing in the community and shall refrain from the following:
a- Discuss, insult, criticize, by word, action or in writing, the state's official religion.
b- Instigate commission of murder, plundering, arson crimes, or otherwise crimes that may be detrimental to the state security or the public interest.
c- Instigate changing, overthrowing, or hatred of the governance system.
d- Promote and encourage hatred of a sect of people, thereby compromising public security or the national unity.
e- Prejudice to or depreciate any person on account of ethnicity, color, religion, gender, or orientation or otherwise because of any physical or mental impairment.
f- Contradict public morality or prejudice the dignity or personal life of people.
g- Propagate false news or extract fake papers that are likely to compromise public security or cause damage to the public interest.
All journalists and press institutions are prohibited from discussing cases which are under investigation or on trial in a way which may impact the progress of the investigation or the trial. In this context they are required to:
a- Refrain from disclosing or publishing the names or pictures of the accused or detained persons for investigation of the crimes or cases on the assumption that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty.
b- Respect the decision of the judiciary authority banning discussion of pending cases.
c- Refrain from disclosing the names of victims of sexual assault or publication of any material thereon which may assist in revealing their identities unless in the presence of adequate justification. They are free to do so from a legal point of view.
Refrain from taking advantage of the journalism profession to accept or gain benefit directly or indirectly from special donations or advantages from local or foreign agencies, nor shall a journalist generally seek, draft or promote advertising while engaged in his / her professional duty.
Journalists and press institutions are urged to protect intellectual property rights, especially with regard to showing respect to the author's and associated rights in accordance with legal legislations and international conventions and charters. A journalist may not quote the opinions or statements of another author in the absence of reference thereto as the original source.
Protection of the freedom and independence of the press is a joint and several liability. To this end, the journalist is bound by professional duties and responsibilities as follows:
a- Keep away from, condemn and disclose any practices that are likely to stain the profession of journalism and taking advantage of it for personal gains.
b- Take into consideration the mutual respect in the relationships prevailing among the members of the journalism family by keeping away from deliberate insults, hurting feelings and defamation of reputation.
c- Transparent dealing with the investigations being carried out by employers or the professional syndicate in connection with complaints or unethical behaviors of errors.
Consolidate solidarity between the journalists and press institutions under the umbrella of the Bahrain Journalist Association for the protection of the freedom of the press and defense of the journalists' professional interests, rights and gains and promotion of their professional status, subject to observation of the following:
a- Secure the appropriate work environment in order to meet the ethical standards which are consistent with this charter.
b- Keep the journalistic circle away from engaging in personal fights squabbles or side battles that are abusive to the sanctity of and respect for the profession.
c- Commit to mentioning the name of the competing newspaper in case information of facts reached by it are quoted.
d- The journalists have the right to compete in order to secure information, news and photographs without insulting or blocking the duties of the professional colleagues.
Free press is the true mirror of the society. Based on the principle of social responsibility, the journalists, press institutions and media men are called upon to commit to their duty related to propagation of awareness and education of the society, protection of the social rights of all persons and components of the community, response to any negative phenomena or obtrusive practices that are inconsistent with the customs and traditions observed in the Kingdom, by observing the following:
a- Refrain from promoting base or cliché artistic works that violate Islamic values, norms and public morality.
b- Avoid immoderate exaggeration in the publication of news which involve crimes and keep away from scandal reporting style and refrain from projection of violence phenomena which will propagate fear, intimidation and depression or otherwise promote aggression in adolescents and young people.
c- Refrain from publishing news on black magic, quackery, and chinoiserie in general and in a way, which promotes and serves these suspicious practices.
d- Ban all forms of discrimination against women and endeavor to enhance her image, avoid exploitation of women on the media in a way that would depreciate her status and insult her dignity.
e- Respect the rights of children when they are interviewed or photographed without the consent of their parents or the persons responsible for them. It is prohibited to publish anything that may be insulting to them or their families, especially cases which involve sexual harassment and assault, whether the children are victims or witnesses, or related to negative acts by one of the parents.
f- Avoid inordinate excessive reporting the details of the crimes, such as harassment and rape incidents, drug abuse and methods used to commit suicide.
g- Protect and support public health and safety. 
While preforming the duties of his/her job, the journalist must respect the laws and rules applicable in the organs of the state, public facilities and private installations and protection of the public interest by observing the following:
a- Secure advance permission from the responsible authority before entering areas that are inaccessible to the public.
b- Refrain from reporting the performance of stocks and financial papers with the intention of positive or negative influence or for personal gains of the journalists or their families.
c- Commit to his/her duty to support reform, fight administrative and financial corruption, blow whistle on violations and treat negative aspect of the society.

Second: rights of the journalists and press institutions versus third parties

The journalists and press institutions shall have rights and warranties which must be fulfilled by third parties, including the following:

The right of the journalists and press institutions to carry out their professional message in an environment of freedom and independence within the limits of the law.
Confiscation, idling or revocation of the license shall be allowed only by a ruling of the court.
The opinion of the journalist or the information he or she publishes must not be cause for compromising his or her physical and psychological security and safety or that of any of his family members, nor should a journalist be coerced into revealing the source of his /her information, all within the limits of the law.
The journalist shall have the right to obtain information and statistics, have access to unrestricted official documents from their sources, in addition to the right to get answers to his or her inquiries and publish the information received, all within the limits of the law.
Unfettered access to the information within the framework of equal opportunity among the various journalists and press institutions and media outlets without prejudice to the dictates of national security and defense and best interests of the state, subject to the condition that the journalist commits to refrain from publishing information which is deemed "unpublishable".
While discharging the duties of his / her job, a journalist may attend conferences as well as the public meetings and sessions in accordance with the pertinent rules and regulations of such meetings and conferences.
A journalist may not be in any way threatened or coerced in order to publish anything that may in any way that may contrive his professional conscience or for the purpose of realizing private ulterior purposes or motives of any person or agency.
No indulgence or remissness in the punishment of any person who may prejudice the dignity of a journalist or commit aggression against him or her on account of engaging in his or her work in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations. Any aggression on any journalist shall be tantamount to an aggression against the free and independent journalism.
Guarantee and protect the safety and security of the journalist by providing the necessary protection while performing his / her duties at the scene of events and disaster and war areas that may threaten his / her life.
The relationship between the journalist and the press institution will be subject to the conditions and controls provided for in the employment contract of the journalist, which must be consistent with the provisions of the labor law for the private sector, including the following:
a- A journalist may not be deprived of engaging in his work or otherwise unjustifiably relocated to a job which does not involve journalism in a way that would have an impact his/ her material and moral rights.
b- Arbitrary dismissal of a journalist on account of his opinion is permissible only after due the Bahrain Journalists Association is advised of the justifications and subject to reinforcement of the provisions of the law related to dismissal in the event the Association is unable to reconcile the two parties.


Source: http://www.bahrainijournalists.org/References_and_documents/Meethaq

Updated: 31/03/2016