Stop using media as a political weapon—Thai media groups

Source: TJA

The following is a statement from the Thai Journalists Association (TJA)—a SEAPA founding member—and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (TBJA) and the Confederation of Thai Journalists (CTJ): Building Peace, Justice and Social Responsibility

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated May 3 as World Press Freedom Day to observe annually the importance of press freedom – that it is part of the fundamental rights of the people.

In recognition of the importance of this day, the Thai Journalists Association (TJA), the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (TBJA) and the Confederation of Thai Journalists (CTJ) and allied organizations would like to make the following recommendations to parties concerned.

1. We urge all media to realize that amidst the crisis facing the country, they must perform their duty respectful of human dignity, avoid using abrasive words that instigate hate and provide themselves as a public platform for all sides equally and report fairly on the roots of problems facing the country and solutions.

Despite the constitutional guarantee of free expression and press freedom, the media are bound to perform their duty in accordance with the principles of social responsibility and professional ethics.

2. We urge all parties in the current conflict to stop using the media as a political tool to fight against each other by way of propagandizing, distorting facts to their own benefits, instigating hatred against their adversaries as well as inciting violence in resolving the conflicts.

3. We appeal to the executive and legislative institutions to show their sincerity in implementing reforms in the fields of both radio and television, accelerating the enactment of related laws to ensure a free and fair distribution and regulation of frequencies and enforcing the laws related to the broadcast and radio and television business regulations. At the same time, state agencies that own public frequencies must show their willingness to reform themselves in response to changes in society. In this regard, the government must cease to interfere and use state media as its political tool.

4. We appeal to the people to use their judgment wisely in receiving news and information and to open up to diverse views from the media. The public must also exercise caution in receiving news and information from the media that are being used as political tool.

5. We, the undersigned media professional organizations, reiterate that press freedom is important to our democracy underpinned by the constitutional monarchy. Any action by any group that abuses the people’s right to free expression is unacceptable and will be resisted with the fullest force possible.

Thai Journalists Association

Thai Broadcast Journalists Association

Confederation of Thai Journalists

3 May 2010