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INTRODUCTION / CODE OF PRACTICE / CODE COMMITTEE

JOURNALISTS’ CODE OF PRACTICE

General clauses:


This Code applies to all media (print and electronic, semi-state or private) and all those working for them.

The Media and those working for them undertake the obligation to cooperate with the Commission in carrying out its investigations. Their non-cooperation constitutes a breach of the Code.

Respect for the truth and the citizen’s right to objective, full and reliable information in an obligation of all media and journalists.
Respect for the journalist’s right to unobstructed access to the sources of news and transparency are necessary prerequisites for proper information.

The conduct, dignity, honesty and professional standard of journalists should be of the highest standard. Journalists refrain from publishing stories or from the use of a language which, by prevailing standards, are considered vulgar or obscene. Journalists, in commenting on the work of their colleagues do so with due respect to their honour and reputation and refrain from personal attacks and references belittling the personality.

The Commission has a duty to defend the Right of Expression and more specifically, the freedom of expression of journalists of print and electronic Mass Media.

The Commission, on its own initiative, or after the lodging of a complaint may deal with allegations that material either published or  broadcast, or any act or omission by anyone constitutes a violation or a threat against the aforementioned liberties. In the case it decides to take up the complaint, the Commission gives the opportunity to the parties involved to present their views and positions, either in writing or verbally. It the case of the Commission ascertains that there is a case of violation of threat as above, it makes its findings public unless it decides otherwise.

The Commission has a duty to defend the independence of journalists.

Journalists have an obligation to defend their independence and not to allow interference with their work. Interference in the work of journalists and intimidation or attempted intimidation or influencing journalists with statements or otherwise is impermissible.

Journalists in carrying out their function:

(a)

Respect and promote democracy and other universal values. They respect and promote human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all.

 

(b)

Show the indicated sensitivity in matters that concern national security and are particularly careful in presenting issues such as violence, crime, sexual offences, human grief and death, as well as information or pictures that are hurtful or could cause panic, horror, or revulsion, especially to children.

 

(c)

Always act in good faith and comply with the letter and spirit of this Code.

Special clauses:

1. ACCURACY

The Media ensure that no inaccurate, misleading, imaginary or distorted news, information or comments are published. In case this has happened, they make an immediate correction and where appropriate, they publish an apology.

The Media have an obligation to present valid information to consumers.

The Media, while they have the right make news analysis and to support concrete positions, they should make a clear differentiation between fact and interpretation, comment or conjecture.

2. RIGHT OF REPLY

The Media give a fair opportunity of reply, in the appropriate case, to those affected and particularly when they have been attacked. This opportunity will be given not so long after the time of publication, that the right of reply shall have no meaning. The Media have the right to edit long letters in a way which will not affect the substance of the reply and to refuse publication of letters which may have legal repercussions on the Media or third parties.

3. PRIVATE LIFE

The reputation and private life of every individual is respected. Intrusions and investigations into the private life of individuals without their consent, including the taking of pictures of people without their knowledge or consent –unless they are involved in events which constitute news of general interest- or on private property and also the gathering of information through bugging devices or long lens photography, are generally unacceptable and their publication can only be justified in exceptional cases an solely in the public interest.
The Media and journalists do not make personal attacks and do not use insulting and abusive words which injure the honour and reputation of individuals.

4. HOSPITALS

Investigations or the taking and publishing of pictures/images of persons in hospitals or in other similar institutions are carried out discreetly and after permission has been obtained where this is indicated and after the identity of functionaries of the Mass Communication Media has been duly stated.

5. MOURNING-GRIEF-SHOCK

In cases involving mourning, grief or shock, an approach characterised by discretion and sympathy to the utmost degree is necessary, as well as avoidance of any act that may increase human pain.

The media should refrain from publishing/broadcasting pictures of people in conditions of mourning, grief or shock and in those cases that publication or broadcasting of such pictures is justified, they should deal with such cases with special care.

No news about suicides is published. In those extraordinary cases that circumstances justify publication, sensitivity and special care should be shown so as to avoid details about the method, even if those details were obtained through a qualified procedure. This clause does not prevent the publication of information obtained from judicial proceedings, provided that all other relevant clauses of the Code of Practice are taken into account.

6. OBTAINING OF INFORMATION

Functionaries of the Media should not, as a general rule, try to secure information or images/photographs through false representation or any other fraudulent manner.
With the exception of serving public interest, documents and images/photographs can only be taken with the consent of their owner.

Functionaries do not obtain or try to obtain information or images/photographs through intimidation or blackmail.

The Media should not publish-broadcast pictures which had been mechanically or electronically modified without informing the public. When doing so they should explain the reasons for such modification. This obligation does not exist when the modification is manifest and the reason is obvious, e.g. for reasons of satire.

7. COPYRIGHT

The Media and their functionaries respect and implement the legislation in force at any particular time and conventions concerning the protection of copyright. Where permitted, reproduction is done with due respect to the author/creator. The Media and journalist must give due credit to the source.

8. BRIBERY-RECEIVING GIFTS

Journalists do not accept gifts in connection with their function. Save in exceptional cases covered by public interest, functionaries do not pay out or bribe witnesses in criminal cases or persons involved in criminal cases, including members of their families, with the aim of obtaining information or images/photographs.

9. PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE

Functionaries of the Media fully respect the principle that a person suspected or accused of having committed a crime is innocent until the contrary is proven in accordance with the law, and consequently avoid publishing anything which may lead to conclusions regarding either the guilt or innocence of suspects or accused or tends to smear their reputation or publicly humiliate them.

10. SEXUAL CRIMES

The Media do not reveal, either directly or indirectly, the identity of victims of rape or other sexual offences and they do not publish or reproduce details, which are likely to cause or increase human pain.

Especially, in cases involving children the following apply:

  1. The identity of children under 16 who are complainants, witnesses of accused in cases of sexual offences is never revealed.
  2. The term “incest” is not used and the charge is described as a serious offence against children, or given any other suitable description.
  3. No reference, either direct or indirect, is made to family or any other relationship between the accused and the child.

11. CHILDREN

As a general rule, functionaries of the Media do not interview and do not photograph children under 16 in connection with matters relating to their personal situation or welfare without parental consent or the consent of an adult being responsible for them.

The Media an their functionaries must comply with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

12. DISCRIMINATION

The Media avoid any direct or other reference or action against a person which contains elements of prejudice on the basis of race, colour, language, religion, political or other conviction, national or social origin, property, extraction, gender, age, or other personal status, including physical or mental illness or disability. Scorn, ridicule and abuse of individuals and groups are not permissible.

13. ECONOMIC BENEFITS

Functionaries do not make use, and do not pass on, for their personal benefit, and before being made available to the general public, any information of an economic nature obtained by them.

Note: The Interpretative Directions on practicing economic journalism, with special reference to investing recommendations, based on the Directions by the European Union published in the ADDENDUM constitute an integral part of this Code of Practice.

14. JOURNALISTIC CONFIDENTIALITY

Functionaries of the Media have a moral obligation to observe professional privilege regarding the source of information obtained confidentially. A journalist is not obliged to reveal the source of his information. At the same time, it is the duty of a journalist to make sure that his sources and their information are reliable.

15. PUBLIC INTEREST

Under this Code, cases which justify deviation from the rule, by invoking public interest, are mainly the following:

(a) Helping to detect or expose crime.
(b) Protecting public safety and health.
(c) Protecting human rights.
(d) Preventing deception of the public as a result of acts or statements by individuals or organizations.

 FINAL PROVISION

This Code can only be revised or amended by an agreement or consensus of all the Parties that have adopted it.*
______________________________________________________
Nicosia, April 1997

* This Code of Practice was modified, mainly in order to be more clear and handy and to take care of changing conditions, by agreement of the founding organisations in June, 2008 and put into force of July 1, 2008.

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ADDENDUM

EXPLANATORY GUIDELINES

On the basis of the relevant provision of the Journalists’ Code of Practice, the Ethics Committee has issued the following explanatory guidelines, cited here in chronological order of addition to the Code:

  1. Publicizing the Names of Traffic or Other Accident Victims

The Ethics Committee feels obliged to bring to the attention of Press and Electronic Media professionals that, on a number of occasions, the relatives of victims of fatal accidents, either traffic or other accidents and incidents, are put through needless suffering when learning of their loved ones’ death or injury on the radio or TV.

The Committee calls upon Media professionals to exercise great caution and responsibility applying the highest professional standards in situations like these, and exercise caution in reporting serious traffic or other accidents without identifying the victims.

  1. Bringing Suspects to Courts – Presumption of Innocence

The Ethics Committee cautions Press and Electronic Media professionals on the coverage of cases where people either suspected or accused of having committed a crime are brought to court, and recommends the following:

  1. Media reporting on such cases must not be in violation of the presumption of innocence and must not contribute to the derision or pillorying of citizens.
  2. When pursuing court and police reporting, exaggeration and overpublicizing cases of lesser importance should be avoided.
  3. The use of photographs in cases of suspects not yet officially charged must be made with the greatest possible caution and restraint, and only when deemed professionally necessary.
  4. The Mass Media and media professionals ought to fully respect the presumption of innocence of people arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime. Based on the legal principle that suspects are presumed innocent until found guilty by a final decision of the court, the Mass Media and media professionals should neither directly nor indirectly assign guilt to the suspect and should avoid any guilt-assigning phrases and characterizations.

At the same time, the Committee feels obliged to bring to the attention of the Minister of Justice and Public Order, and also the Police, that the practice of transferring either suspects or the accused to court in handcuffs (barring exceptional cases or if essential reasons apply) has been abandoned long ago by most countries.

The Committee believes it is high time the competent authorities took this development into serious consideration as this particular practice does not comply with respect of human dignity in a contemporary society.

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  • Publicizing the Names of Rape Victims

    The Ethics Committee finds that significant progress has been achieved regarding the manner in which the Cypriot Mass Media treat victims of rape or other sexual crimes.

At the same time, it notes that there have been cases where even though the victim’s identity was not revealed, the publication of information and details relevant to the case either reproduced the sexual abuse or tended to create the impression of the victim’s shared responsibility or justify the perpetrator’s behaviour. This kind of media conduct is both unacceptable and condemnable.

The principle of non-disclosure of the identity of victims or other details that may reveal their identity applies generally when Cypriot citizens are involved, a fact noted with satisfaction.

It is also noted, however, that this praiseworthy attitude of the Mass Media does not apply in cases where the victims of sexual crimes are non-Cypriots.

There is obviously a false impression among media professionals that since the victims are foreigners and are not known in Cyprus, publicizing their names is not a reprehensible act.

The Ethics Committee feels obliged to underline that the Mass Media ought to deal with incidents of this kind without discriminations and with the same sensibility and respect they demonstrate when Cypriots are involved.

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  1. Mass Media handling of drug cases 

 

The Mass Media undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping public opinion both generally and specifically regarding the use of addictive substances.

The manner in which this particular topic is represented in news reports, footage or articles, or the use of standardized phrases, the publication of photographic material that may cause fear or insecurity or not provide an accurate description of the problem, may have negative consequences and cause the opposite results than those pursued in the context of a policy of prevention.

Proper information and training of journalists on the topic of addictions can contribute to the promotion of the basic principles of prevention policy.

The Mass Media address a diversified pubic that includes groups who may have varied needs regarding prevention. Therefore, the messages conveyed have a different effect on different individuals.

For that reason, there cannot be one single recipe for presenting information through the Mass Media. There is, though, a set of basic principles that need to be taken into account.

BASIC PRINCIPLES

The process of developing and manufacturing drug substances must not be described, as this may be construed as encouragement for the use or instructions for using drugs by individuals prone to the use of substances, or others wishing to experiment. Similarly, there cannot be any reference in a direct or indirect way, to easy or great profit that may be yielded by trading drugs.

Methods of taking addictive substances or instruments of manufacturing or using drug substances can neither be described nor presented.

Not all substances are collectively referred to as WHITE DEATH because not all substances are white and not all lead to death.

Portraying individuals arrested for producing or using drugs as heroes or idols must be avoided.

The use of argot or terms employed by individuals who either trade drugs or are addicted to using them must be avoided.

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  1. Practice of financial journalism

Explanatory guidelines regarding the practice of financial journalism with special reference to investment recommendations based on European Union Directives.

General principles

The Ethics Committee, having regard to –

  • Directives 2003/6/EC and 2003/125/EC;
  • The Law on Insider Dealing and Manipulation (Market Abuse) of 2005;
  • The provisions of the aforementioned Community Directives and the Law on the exemption of Mass Media and Journalists from obligations imposed on others, given that they are governed by internal regulation or self-regulation;
  • The general principles of the Journalists’ Code of Practice on the respect of truth, the citizens’ right to objective, full and reliable information; the journalists’ right to unobstructed access to sources of news and the principles of transparency and honesty, as well as the provisions of the Laws on the Press and on Radio and TV Stations as regards the above;
  • The specific provisions of the Code on the accuracy of information, on non-deriving financial gain through the use of information in the possession of journalists, and on the right of non-disclosure;
  • The basic general rule that journalists have the obligation to comply with the letter and the spirit of the Code:

 

-issues the following guidelines as regards the use of information of a financial nature:

  1. The entanglement of journalists in conflicts of interests is both unacceptable and condemnable.
  2. Journalists work to ensure prevention of market manipulation in every possible way.
  3. Journalists declare any interests or conflicts of interests.

 

Analytically:

1.1. The first and foremost concern of Media and journalists covering financial issues must be to protect retail investors regarding investments in financial instruments at the Stock Market.
1.2. Journalists neither publish nor broadcast news regarding investment recommendations if they or their next-of-kin anticipate profit from the selling, holding or otherwise of shares about which they are in possession of information.
1.3. If they or their next-of-kin anticipate profit from investment recommendations, the Mass Media and journalists may publish or broadcast information pertaining to such recommendations, as long as they declare the financial interests or conflicts of interests in relation to the recommendations referenced in the publications or broadcasts.
1.4. Journalist who either themselves or their relatives and friends have financial interests or conflicts of interests linked to information they are in possession of, ought to declare this to their superior.
1.5. The Mass Media and journalists are not allowed to either publish or disclose information on shares about which either they or persons with whom they have close ties have performed acts prior to or immediately after the intended publication or broadcast.
1.6. The Mass Media and journalists or persons with whom they have close ties are not allowed to perform any acts concerning shares on which they had reported immediately before or intend to report on immediately afterwards.

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2.1. All acts aimed at market manipulation are prohibited.
2.2. Indicative examples of such acts are the publication of false or ungrounded information that either gives or may give false or misleading signals as to the supply of, demand for or price of financial instruments, artificial or abnormal interference with the market, the path and/or volume of transactions of financial instruments and participation or encouragement of participation in acts aimed at market manipulation.

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3.1. In line with the provisions of the Journalists’ Code of Ethics, journalists must, where possible, cite the sources of their information.
3.2. When publishing investment recommendations, they ought to declare interests or conflicts of interests concerning themselves or persons with whom they have close ties. When this is considered inapplicable, they must specify the source from which the public may seek information for the existence of interests or conflicts of interests.
3.3. When publishing investment recommendations of third parties or other information of a financial nature originating from third parties, or the summary of investment recommendations of third parties, they ought to declare interests or conflicts of interests of the third parties. When this is considered inapplicable, they must specify the source from which the public may seek information for the existence of interests or conflicts of interests of the third parties.

    • The Mass Media and journalists who produce or disseminate investment recommendations -

 

3.4.1. Ought to distinguish between a fact and an interpretation, calculations, advices, projections and guidelines.
3.4.2. Ought to make known their identity and/or the identity of their manager or editor-in-chief.
3.4.3. When disseminating investment recommendations prepared by third parties, they must ensure that the identity of such third parties is made known.
3.4.4. When essentially modifying investment recommendations prepared by third parties, they must make sure that the extent of the modification is revealed.
3.4.5. When disseminating investment suggestions without any additions or changes of their own, they must ensure that the suggestions are clear and not misleading.
3.4.6. Journalists with a personal interest or conflict of interest ought to accordingly inform their manager/editor-in-chief.
3.4.7 The Mass Media and journalist as described in paragraph 3.4 ought to declare any interests or conflicts of interest. Where this is considered inapplicable, they must specify the source from which the public may seek information for the existence of interests or conflicts of interests. 

FINAL PROVISION

The Committee, by issuing these GUIDING PRINCIPLES shall take into account, in an indicative way, the interpretation of the First Annex to the Law on Insider Dealing and Manipulation (Market Abuse) of 2005, as regards the meaning of the terms referred to therein.

Close ties:
A person who has close ties with another person is:

  • The spouse and relatives within up to the second degree of consanguinity;
  • A person who, in the Committee’s view, is in a co-dependent relation or a relation that is premised to a substantial degree on common interests;
  • Persons acting in concert, namely persons who cooperate between them in concerted practice or in the context of an agreement;
  • Other relatives or persons living under the same roof for at least one year on the date of the transaction;
  • Any enterprise controlled by a natural person or jointly with the spouse or with relatives within up to the second degree of consanguinity, where they own a percentage of at least 20% of the share capital or of the voting rights at a general assembly.

COMMENTS

The Ethics Committee, considering that the issue of financial journalism is of crucial importance, intends to denounce publicly and without delay any cases where violation of the aforementioned guidelines has been noted.

The Journalists’ Code of Practice and the guidelines issued based on the Code apply both in letter and in spirit. Their intention is clear: No journalist or manager/editor-in-chief should take on any form of activity related to the exercise of financial journalism which leaves room for misinterpretation or may lead to calling into question the integrity of himself/herself or of the Media employing him/her.

No loophole should be sought to justify any action or act that does not comply with the letter and the spirit of the Code and the Guiding Principles.

The Code and Guiding Principles apply for all Mass Media, journalists and managers/editors-in-chief. It imposes upon journalists the obligation to disclose to their managers/editors-in-chief whether they own shares that are newsworthy.

The well-intentioned exercise of journalism requires managers/editors-in-chief to disclose their own interests in shares, as described above, to the Media Publisher/Director. Keeping an Internal Register is a practical manner in which this obligation may be fulfilled.

The basic criterion must be applying common sense. Therefore, the ultimate objective is to protect journalists and journalism from being exposed to accusations for dishonest or self-seeking practices.
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  1. Media coverage of suicide cases

In summary:

News on suicides must not be published or broadcast uncritically, barring exceptional cases where the story is highly newsworthy due to special circumstances.
Where publication is justified, the use of sensational language and expressions or the normalization of suicide or its presentation as a way out of problems must be avoided.
The explicit description of the method or process of a suicide or attempted suicide must be avoided.
Detailed information on the site of a completed or attempted suicide is not to be cited.
Headlines must be worded very carefully.
The use of photographs or video footage must be done with caution.
Particular care must be put on reporting celebrity suicides.
People bereaved by suicide must be treated with due consideration.
A suicide could provide an opportunity to inform the public about the phenomenon of suicide through supplying information on its repercussions on relatives and friends and on where a person may turn for help.
As a general principle, Mass Media do not publish news on suicides, with the exception of rare cases where publication is justified by specific circumstances. For instance, an exceptional case could be the suicide of a well-known personality or celebrity, given that the publication would serve a social purpose or contribute to putting in place corrective measures. However, these exceptions too must be governed by all other provisions of the Code pertaining to suicide.

More specifically, in cases where the facts would justify deviation from the rule, the story must aim at information and not at sensationalism and should not contain details on the reasons or method, nor on the manner or means or process of the suicide.
  
Even in cases where information is derived from a privileged procedure, such as public court hearings or statements by a person competent to talk about this particular issue, such information must not be published.
 
There are powerful indications that the Mass Media contribute considerably to the social phenomenon of suicide which is regarded by the World Health Organization as a serious public health problem. The WHO and the International Association for Suicide Prevention-IASP have published a special report addressed to media professionals, which brings together the findings of 50 investigations conducted worldwide: https://www.iasp.info/resources/Suicide_and_the_Media/

All investigations have drawn the conclusion that media reporting on suicides can lead to imitative suicidal behaviours immediately after the reporting and within a period of three weeks after.

The general conclusion of these reviews is that similarity between the stimulus and the person described in the story and the reader/viewer in terms of age, gender, financial or personal circumstances and other elements of identification, is an important factor of imitation.
It has also been noted that the more known or influential the person who had committed suicide, the broader was the imitating behaviour that followed. Particular subgroups, such as young people or people suffering from depression, may be especially vulnerable to engaging in imitative suicidal behaviours. The description of suicide by a particular method may lead to imitation of that method.
Where particular circumstances justify media reporting on suicide, the report must not give a simplistic account of the reasons which have led to the suicide. It would be misleading to attribute a suicide to an individual event like exam failure, relationship breakdown or economic catastrophe without delving into other factors. Suicide is never the result of a single cause. Mental disorders, impulsiveness, cultural, genetic and socio-economic factors always need to be taken into account.

According to the aforementioned study, instead of sensationalizing suicide, the mass media should rather have a deterrent effect by presenting the negative consequences of suicide. Such consequences is the devastating impact of suicide on family members and friends who mourn their loss and feel stigmatized and angry or even guilty, wondering whether there had been signs they may have missed.

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  1. Presentation of topics about migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and human trafficking victims

As a general principle, everyone in Cyprus, independent of national, racial, religious, social or linguistic background, has exactly the same human rights based on the international human rights treaties ratified by the Republic of Cyprus.
                                                                                                                                                          
Recognizing this fact, the Code of Journalists’ Practice forbids “any action containing elements of prejudice based on race, colour, language, religion, political or other convictions, national or social background, property, origin, age, gender and personal status, including physical or mental illness or disability”.

Further, the Code forbids as unacceptable the mocking, pillorying and derision of individuals or groups. This particular provision covers individuals and groups or subgroups of people with different racial, national, linguistic and religious characteristics, as well as characteristics pertaining to personal status, including personal details and features.

The aforementioned properties refer to the individual’s right to be different, which must be recognized in practice and be respected by all.

Where issues of migration and asylum are presented by the Mass Media in a manner which contains prejudice regarding the aforementioned properties, the result is the creation of xenophobic feelings which goes on to exacerbate social phenomena rooted on the intolerance of diversity.

An example of the Mass Media creating prejudice is reference to national and racial origin when these characteristics do not form substantial elements of the story. This particular practice is mostly observed in stories concerning crimes or offences or for any other reason reflecting negatively on individuals or groups, where the national or racial origin or solely the fact that the perpetrator or victim is not a Cypriot is underlined in the report. Conversely, in similar cases regarding Cypriots, nationality is not considered part of the story and is almost never mentioned. This particular practice contributes to the creation of feelings of xenophobia, hostility, revulsion and intolerance against foreigners as a whole.

In the same manner, other rights of migrants are often violated, though respected for Cypriots. For instance, the violation of the presumption of innocence, the publication of photographs taken during their arrest or transfer to court, their right to privacy and non-disclosure of personal details.

Oftentimes, xenophobic statements are published and broadcasted because on several occasions they are made by well-known persons, as was repeatedly the case during live discussions or statements made on TV and radio stations; or allegations are put forward by members of the public, usually without allowing arguments to the contrary or the other perspective to be heard.
When reporting on issues pertaining to migration sympathy must be shown to people forced to risk their own lives or the lives of their children for a better life. The obligation of states to provide refugees with help and protection must also be displayed, as well as positive actions, such as the rescue of 350 Syrian refugees in September 2014.

The current circumstances of economic crisis and increased unemployment favour a breeding ground for the creation and dissemination of feelings of xenophobia, racism and hostility against migrants. This requires media professionals to be especially cautious when handling stories about migrants, more particularly about asylum seekers, refugees, human trafficking victims and other groups residing in Cyprus or elsewhere.

Journalists who respect their profession and are fully aware of their mission owe to consciously make sure that no element of prejudice against migrants interferes with their work; at the same time they should point out the positive aspects of the migrants’ presence in Cyprus.

Therefore, journalists should always bear in mind that this is not a one-dimensional topic; it is in fact complex and should not be treated simplistically in a manner that may lead to xenophobia.

Lumping foreigners together – often under the term illegal immigrants – and putting forward largely uncritical allegations is the worst possible practice.

IN SUMMARY:

Always take into account the element of diversity, be it cultural, racial, national, religious, social or visual in order to promote mutual understanding amongst different groups of the population.

Do not declare national or racial origin in news reports when this is not a component of information. For example, if you would not mention that the party or parties involved in a story are Cypriots, opt not to mention it where they are migrants.

Neither write nor report news about events involving migrants, refugees, asylum seekers or human trafficking victims, where such events would not be newsworthy if they involved Cypriots.

Do not overpublicize news where either the victims or the perpetrators are migrants. Treat these stories as you would if the persons involved were Cypriots.

Especially in cases of crimes or offences, do not refer to the suspect’s or suspects’ national origin, if it is not a constitutive or necessary element of the story.

Do not violate the presumption of innocence or give information concerning the private life or personal status of the persons involved or members of their family.

Reference to the origin, religion and legal status of migrants must be avoided unless it contributes to the understanding of the events. (The title “Illegal migrant steals motorcycle” places major importance to the legal status of the individual as explanation for the theft, whereas the reason for the theft might have been irrelevant to the person’s legal status).

Do not use levelling expressions and terms and avoid using belittling expressions and characterizations.

Do not refer to all foreigners as illegal immigrants or in a derogatory manner.

When referring to migrants, specify whether they are economic migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, irregular migrants, trafficking victims or individuals under the protection of the state for any reason.

The term suggested by international human rights organizations for migrants arriving or residing in a country without legal documents is “irregular migrants” or “undocumented migrants”.

Journalism ethics requires the use of a legally correct terminology as cited herein below:

Asylum seeker is a person outside his or her country of origin who has applied for protection as a refugee or for international protection of some other kind. The asylum seeker, regardless of whether he or she has entered the country without documents or in any other irregular manner, has the right to remain in the country which has a responsibility to examine the application lodged by the asylum seeker, until a final decision is made.

Refugee is a person granted refugee status based on the 1951 Geneva Convention which has been ratified by 148 countries. Based on Article 1 of the Convention, the term ‘refugee’ applies to any person who “due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”. The status of refugee may be granted to persons fulfilling the aforementioned criteria.

Subsidiary Protection Beneficiary is granted to asylum seekers who do not run a risk of individual persecution in their country of origin based on the Geneva Convention, but cannot return to their country because they run a real risk of suffering serious harm – torture, the death penalty, inhumane or humiliating treatment, serious threat against their life – due to conflict or generalized violence.

A human trafficking victim is a person who is the subject of exploitation, whether it be labour, sexual or physical exploitation, such as removal of body organs, by other individuals exercising complete control over him or her.

As opposed to irregular migrants who of their own accord trust smugglers in order to reach their destination, the human trafficking victim has either not consented to being transferred to another country or, even if he or she has consented to, their consent becomes nullified due to coercion and deception imposed on them as a result of the actions of human traffickers or the abusive treatment they had been subjected to or threatened to be subjected to.

A migrant is a person who on his or her own accord makes a choice to seek work with better economic conditions in another country. As opposed to a refugee, the migrant’s life and liberty are not at risk and he or she may, if they so wish return to their own country.

An irregular migrant or “undocumented migrant” is a person who enters a country without having undergone border checks or a person who remains in a country after his or her authorized stay has expired, or someone who remains in a country after a decree of expulsion has been issued against him or her.

Never reveal the identity of asylum seekers, refugees, victims of human trafficking, even migrants who choose to speak on camera because either they or their relatives may face retaliation by the authorities of their country of origin or by non-State, even criminal organizations.

Images of asylum seekers and human trafficking victims must not be shown. If special circumstances justify the publication/broadcast of images, care must be taken not to reveal faces in a manner that renders them identifiable.

Do not use standardized archival images (i.e. women wearing a headscarf or a veil, men in praying posture) for stories about migrants. Not all migrants are Muslims or practicing Muslims, whereas the use of stereotypes may conjure up negative associations.

When handling cases of women who have fallen victims to human trafficking, do not convey the impression that these women are prostituted on their own accord and make sure you point out the fact that they are subjected to inhumane exploitation.
       
Never mention their national or racial origin and always protect their anonymity.

If you are hosting a TV program or a radio program, be prepared to intervene immediately and effectively in order to separate your own position and the position of the Media employing you if your guests, regardless of who they may be, make statements that contain the element of hostility or prejudice against migrants. Strongly deprecate such statements when made by public figures, individuals in positions of authority and persons who owing to their capacity exert influence on the public opinion.

Avoid sensationalism and the creation of feelings of fear, panic or concern over the consequences of migration if the allegations put forward lack a serious and well-founded documentation.
       
When circumstances necessitate the publication of statements of unfavourable content for migrants, make sure you present the other point of view, asking for comments by an organization promoting the rights of migrants, or ask migrants themselves to comment on the statements.

Journalists employed by online news sites must be especially cautious, as the Internet leaves more room for a racist rhetoric.
   
Online news sites ought to immediately remove racist comments, regardless of where they come from.

When asking for statements by foreigners, make sure they understand your questions and that you have correctly perceived their answers.    

Inform foreigners of the possible consequences of their statements: when agreeing to make a statement they may not be aware of the international dynamics of the Press and therefore may not predict the consequences of their appearance in the Mass Media.