Establishment of the Timor-Leste Press Council
In the 2011 Assessment of Media Development in Timor-Leste which is based on the UNESCO Media Development Indicators (MDI), media self-regulation is one of the prominent elements lacking in the current Timor-Leste media landscape. A healthy voluntary self-regulatory system within the media landscape is one of the cornerstones of freedom of expression, press freedom, and democratic governance. It is also the best means of guaranteeing high ethical and professional standards in journalism. Currently, there is no outlet to handle media complaints or to provide redress against unprofessional journalism in the country. The only recourse is through the expensive and lengthy legal procedure which has the potential to bring financial ruin and a chilling effect to freedom of the press and freedom of expression, to a nascent media landscape such as that of Timor-Leste.
A strong self-regulatory approach through the establishment of a press council is a necessary step towards a truly free, independent and pluralistic media. The establishment of a Timor-Leste Press Council which is represented by local media practitioners, publisher or owners, and members of the public will also directly contribute to increasing the professional standards of journalism in the country collectively, through the publication and dissemination of the Press Council’s code of ethics, decisions and deliberation to its members and media outlets. The immediate objective of this project is therefore to establish the first Press Council in Timor-Leste and provide it with necessary start-up support including basic office equipment and training for all the council members in order for them to be effective, well-recognized and capable of carrying out the Council’s duties and responsibilities.