The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on 30 May hailed the signature in Morocco of the Arab Declaration on Media Freedom which took place during an event jointly organised on 23 May by the Conseil national des droits de l'Homme (CNDH) Morocco's national Human rights council and the Syndicat national de la presse marocaine (SNPM).
The Declaration (read the Declaration in Arabic) was signed by journalists, the publishers' association, human rights organizations and main political parties represented in Moroccan Parliament with the noticeable exception of the Justice and Development Party.
The signing ceremony was attended by CNDH President Driss Yazmi, SNPM Secretary General and IFJ Senior Vice President Younes Mjahed as well as IFJ Administrative Committee member Jim Boumelha. It brought together dozens of journalists, officials, and representatives of key institutions and political parties.
The Declaration - a clear commitment to the principles of media freedom, independent journalism and the right to information - was adopted at a meeting hosted by the International Federation of Journalists and the Moroccan journalists union (SNPM) in Casablanca in May 2016 with the support of numerous institutions including UNESCO, the government of Norway, the FES, Union to Union and EU-funded MedMedia programme. It is the first step towards establishing a Special Mechanism for Media Freedom in the region to uphold the principles contained in the Declaration.
The Declaration on Media Freedom, supported by hundreds of representatives of journalists unions, broadcasters, human rights organisations and press freedom groups, sets out 16 key principles to achieve the highest international standards of media freedom, protect and enhance journalists' rights.
Among the principles in the Declaration are those covering:
Freedom of expression
Freedom of information
Media law reform
Hate speech and intolerance
Independence of public service broadcasters
"This signature is a milestone in the ongoing campaign to establish a Special Mechanism for Media Freedom in the Arab World," said Younes Mjahed. "With Morocco joining the countries who signed the Declaration, we wish our colleagues in the remaining countries in the region the best of luck in their efforts to get it signed as well."
"Signing the Declaration is key for States in the region to show their commitments to international principles on media freedom and freedom of associations. We call on all governments in the region to heed the calls of journalists unions and national human right centers in their countries to sign it," added Jim Boumelha.