Anti-Terrorist Convention

Anti-Terrorist Convention

Source: Interfax news agency

For purposes of supplying society with authentic information, the mass media have the right and duty of contributing to the open discussion of the problem of terrorism, informing society on the progress of counter-terrorist operations, carrying out investigations, and providing people with information on real problems and conflicts.

We are sure that the threat of terrorism must not be used as a pretext or justification for restrictions on the right to freedom of opinion or freedom of media of mass communication.

At the same time, aware of danger stemming from terrorism and the responsibility that provision of information involves in such an environment, we consider it necessary to voluntarily adopt the following rules of conduct for the mass media and pledge to use them as guidance in our work:

1. The mass media personnel must realize that, during a terrorist act or a counter-terrorist operation, rescuing human beings and the human right to live take priority over all other rights and freedoms.

2. If a journalist has received information about a terrorist act that is being organized or has begun, he must report this information to the management of his mass media group before publishing it.

3. Journalists who enter the zone of a counter-terrorist operation must possess an identity card of their mass media group or another document identifying the personality and powers of the journalist, and show it at the first demand.

4. The management of a mass media group must immediately make available to the committee coordinating a counter-terrorist operation command or to the authorities any information that they have acquired and that may be used in the course of the antiterrorist operation.

5. Since access to the mass media with the aim of stating their position is usually one of the main objectives for terrorists, a journalist must not:

interview terrorists at his own initiative during a terrorist act except at the request or with the sanction of the coordinating committee;

provide terrorists with an opportunity of appearing in a live radio or television program without consulting the coordinating committee;

take the role of mediator independently (with the exception of cases where this is sanctioned or requested by the coordinating committee); if a journalist is among negotiators, he must refrain from producing any publications of his own before the resolution of the crisis;

take up weapons or put on camouflage or any other uniform; he must realize that, by taking up weapons, a journalist ceases to be a journalist;

suggest that terrorists, hostages or any other persons involved in the conflict take any action to obtain successful video recordings or photographs;

insult or seek to humiliate terrorists who control the lives of hostages.

6. The mass media must:

“remember that a live television or radio program may be used by terrorists for the transmission of agreed signals to their accomplices elsewhere;

avoid reporting details of professional action to rescue people;

be tactful and respect the feelings of the families of friends of victims of terrorism; be particularly sensitive in dealing with eyewitnesses of events as sources of information;

avoid excessive naturalism in showing the site of an event or those involved in it, and respect the moral, ethnic and religious feelings of their audience;

make careful use of terminology in covering events; it is wrong to come under the influence of terrorists who use self-designations that serve their purpose;

be aware that hostages to terrorists are also hostages to the situation who may become an instrument of pressure on public opinion;

avoid identifying relatives or friends of hostages or potential victims without their consent.

7. In covering terrorist acts and antiterrorist operations, one must also:

remember that it is one’s duty to inform society and not to sow panic; mind not only the meaning but also the tone of what one says;

remember that reports in the mass media are accessible to anyone, including those who deliberately create a critical situation;

bear in mind that the world community denies that terrorism is linked to any specific religion, race or ethnic group;

realize that reports must not contain any information that could serve to strengthen the positions of the terrorists, for example, expression of support for their demands. Such strict demands may apply purely to situations involving a direct threat to human life, but cannot apply to political, economic or social struggles that fit within the framework of the constitution.

The mass media may notify their audience that part of the information has been classified by the coordinating committee for the duration of the counter-terrorist operation for reasons of security to protect human life.