At the end of a General Assembly convened by the Observatoire Nigérien Indépendant des Médias pour l'Éthique et la Déontologie (Nigerien Independent Media Observatory for Ethics - ONIMED), on 29 May, 2010, Nigerien journalists have adopted a new Code of Ethics, which replaces the Charters of Professional Journalists of 1997. The new adopted code serves as a work basis for ONIMED in its mission of self-regulation of the press in Niger. It should be recalled that ONIMED itself was set up on May 5, 2010, in accordance with the recommendation of the General Assembly of the Press, which took place in Niamey from 29 to 31 March, 2010. During this meeting, a text on the decriminalisation of crimes committed by the press was approved.
The Code of Ethics of Nigerien Journalists states in its preamble that respect for the truth and the public's right to information are the fundamental principles of journalism. To promote and consolidate the principles governing the practice of the profession, every journalist is required to submit to a number of duties. However, the respect of these principles also confers on the journalist certain rights whose enjoyment is conditioned by the existence of a free, credible and plural press, which can fully assume its function of "guardian" of democracy, but also by the conditions of adequate life and work.
Resolutely determined to respect all the duties imposed on them by their profession and to enjoy the rights that their mission confers on them, Nigerien journalists have thus adopted this code of ethics and professional conduct in order to promote the principles and norms of professional journalism in Niger.
Similar to media legislation, but more focused on the non-governmental networks or organisations that might be producing self-regulatory systems and the governmental organs that pass regulations on this field (esp regarding the digital sector), the code states a set of Duties of Journalists. In the ongoing work of collecting, processing and disseminating information, the journalist must:
- defend the freedom of information, commentary and criticism;
- respect the truth, regardless of its consequences, because of the sacred right of the public to information;
- publish or disseminate only fair, verifiable and balanced information, ie sourced and, if not, accompany them with the necessary reservations;
- respect obligatorily the principle of the sacredness of human life and the private life of the people;
- correct any published or disseminated information that proves to be inaccurate;
- respect professional secrecy and refrain from disclosing its source of information;
- prohibit plagiarism, slander, defamation and other unfounded accusations;
- refuse any form of corruption for the publication or deletion of information;
- refuse any pressure or editorial guidance not coming from the editors of the media organisations for which he works;
- cultivate the spirit of confraternity in the collection and dissemination of information, in particular by refraining from participating directly or indirectly in any action aimed at harming a colleague or a press company.
Every professional journalist has the duty to strictly observe the principles stated above and to accept, in the matter of professional honor, only the jurisdiction of his peers, to the exclusion of any governmental or other interference. In reality, some journalists do not observe these principles, so this is really a statement of intent.
In the exercise of the profession, the journalist is entitled with the following rights:
- free access to all sources of information and to freely investigate all facts relating to public life. The secrecy of public or private affairs can only be opposed as an exception and on the basis of well-founded motives;
- to refuse any subordination that would be contrary to the general line of the media outlet for which he/she works, as determined in writing in his contract of employment;
- respect for one's conviction and conscience;
- to invoke the conscience clause, when it is no longer in the editorial line of the organ that employs it;
- to be informed about any important decision likely to affect the life of the company that employs it. It must at least be consulted before any final decision on any measure affecting the composition of its drafting: hiring, dismissal, transfer and promotion of journalist;
- the benefits of collective agreements, but also a personal contract ensuring the material and moral security of his work and a remuneration corresponding to the social role, which is his/hers, and sufficient to guarantee economic independence.