“Non Dry Ink” A Guide to Media Laws and Journalistic Code of Conduct
For several years, the Syrian Female Journalists Network strived to empower journalists and build their capacities, as well as develop the rhetoric and content of various media organizations. This summer, the Network launched a guidebook this summer, entitled “Non Dry Ink: Gender Sensitivity in Media Laws and Codes in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan” as part of its continuous efforts to develop media work in Syria, and to respond to inquiries from workers in the media about a range of topics relating to legal protection for them and their sources, and about media production in general. It aims to educate and provide knowledge, and raise awareness about gender sensitivity in journalistic coverage, and familiarize with media laws and the extent to which they are affected by other laws such as penal law, nationality, personal status, and states of emergency, which control the media, undermine its autonomy, and restrict its freedom.
This guide helps to understand and analyze the causes of gender discrimination, and protect media professionals by identifying laws that adversely impact freedom of expression, whether in domestic law or through international agreements.
The guide aims to clarify imbalances, discrimination and inequality in media laws, and to change them as to conform with human rights and equality standards, with a focus on the role of media institutions, and female and male journalists in pressure and campaign advocacy to amend or change laws to achieve freedom of expression, justice and gender equality, and to protect media professionals and their sources, especially in regards to the courts. It also seeks to identify all domestic laws in the countries covered by the guide, as well as international conventions governing society (individuals and institutions) regarding rights and freedom of expression, and means of combating discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation.
The guide contains full legal texts and references which constrict journalists in their work, as well as legal examples from Syrian, Jordanian, Iraqi, Lebanese and Turkish law. Media laws in these countries intersect closely with domestic laws which must be repealed or amended to conform to and comply with basic human rights.
For her part, Advocate Ruhada Abdoush, Legal Advisor at the Syrian Female Journalists Network and the author of the guide, points out the mechanisms of preparing the guide through communication with media professionals and organizations prior to writing the guide for their opinions and needs. She also made use of the opinions of experts who provided consultations for its development. She adds that the guide is the culmination of years-long work by the Syrian Female Journalists Network in the pursuit of developing the emerging Syrian media sector, and says:
“To me, it is the result of years of work in the field of media and law, and my experience in providing legal advice to media professionals in their work. It is addressed to all those interested, in a simple legal language, and can benefit those who wish to know the laws and constitutions governing journalistic work, to arrive at the conclusion that media law is merely a hindrance for female and male journalists.”
The guide helps to answer a question that has long been debated: Do media organizations really need laws and a designated ministry of information? Or does having a media council suffice? How important is it to expand freedom of expression within the regulations set by media institutions such as codes of conduct and international conventions?
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