Building on their ongoing reporting on integrity and anti-corruption issues in Palau, local journalists have committed to make sure their own actions are transparent and accountable by adopting the first Code of Conduct for the Palau Media Council.

At the conclusion of a Pacific Anti-Corruption Journalists Network (PACJN) and UN office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) refresher training on Codes of Conduct held in Koror on 31 May, the Palau Media Council membership unanimously agreed to adopt their PMC Code of Conduct.

PMC President Leilani Reklai said that the adoption of the new Code builds on the work local journalists have undertaken to be more aware of the impact of corruption and how to prevent corrupt practices.

“When we first formed the PMC, adopting a Code of Conduct was one of our key targets, and now that our members are better informed on the impacts of corrupt behaviour and the importance of journalists demonstrating that we must act ethically it is a great achievement that we have formally now adopted our own Code,” said Ms Reklai.

PMC Vice President Kambes Kesolei, who chaired the adoption meeting said that local journalists were now much better prepared to present complex, difficult corruption stories.

“Corruption is a global issue – it doesn’t stop at our national boundary. We can see that since the establishment of the PMC and our willingness to learn good reporting techniques from the Pacific Anti-Corruption Journalists Network and UNODC, that we can better inform the Palau community,” said Mr Kesolei.

At the Code of Conduct adoption meeting, former Australian journalist and UNODC anti-corruption trainer John Hyde, commended Palau journalists for giving up their personal time to learn more about integrity issues and helping those at-risk in the community to have a voice.

“It’s also credit to the Palau Government that recent national anti-corruption dialogues held by the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the Attorney-General have included journalists as participants – yes, there are always stories about corrupt practices that must be reported, but good journalists can look at gaps in systems or oversight that can allow corrupt people to get away with damaging activities.

“A Code of Conduct also helps journalists to keep focused on being impartial and also demonstrating that they are transparent in the way they report complex, difficult issues,” said Mr Hyde.

In the past three years, members of the Palau Media Council have undertaken training on the UN Conventional against Corruption, the Pacific’s regional roadmap the Teieniwa Vision which Palau adopted through its Pacific Islands Forum membership, the UNODC Investigative Toolkit for Journalists, Financial Reporting and specific sessions with local integrity agencies such as the Public Auditor, OSP and Attorney-General’s department.

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