The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Centre for Law and Democracy announced here Monday the launch of the Handbook on International Standards and Media Law in the Arab World.
An IFJ statement noted that the Handbook sets out international standards regarding media freedom and assesses the extent to which the legal regimes governing the media in Arab countries conform to those standards.
The Handbook offers an overview of the laws and regulations governing the media in countries in the Arab world and spells out potential solutions to the challenges facing Arab journalists based on international standards.
As the first detailed assessment of media laws across the region, the Handbook should prove to be a vital tool for journalists and others in their fight to bring about key media law reforms in the region, and thereby to confront threats from poverty, corruption and political interference.
"Arab journalists and their unions are confronting huge challenges arising from warring political factions, social conflicts and pressure for change," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha in a statement.
"Equipping them with a blue print for root-and-branch reforms of media laws and regulations is crucial in helping them build a new culture of journalism which would bring to an end offensive laws that continue to control information," he noted.
On his part, Toby Mendel, Executive Director, Centre for Law and Democracy, said "an assessment like this of the media law regimes across the Arab world is long overdue." "The Arab Spring has opened up new possibilities for democratic change, and we hope the Handbook will assist those advocating for reform in the region," he added.