Senior justices from the judiciary, legal professionals, and journalists from different media houses attended a two-day workshop earlier this week where the two essential pillars of a democracy – a free media and an independent judiciary – shared expectations of the other among other things.
Journalists were briefed on the internal functioning of the courts where general overview of the relevant laws was emphasized. The media when reporting on parliamentary or committee proceedings were asked to ensure that published material is true and protected by the defense of justification to publish a fair and accurate report of the proceedings and to prove a parliamentary speech as a fact upon which a fair comment was made.
For rightful coexistence of the courts and media the two main aspects be kept under consideration while publishing a story is legality and ethics.
The Madrid principles states that media has an obligation to respect the rights of individuals, protected by the International Covenants, the constitution and specific provision of laws in respect of the independence of the judiciary.
Other subjects of discussions and presentations involved contempt of court and the misconceptions associated with it, and the widely interpreted issue on naming and shaming of suspects and its legality and constitutionality, which Justice Lungten Drubgyur clarified that in accordance with the law of the country, the media and police should refrain from naming and shaming of suspects as far as possible.
Some of the senior journalists also discussed on whether or not it will constitute naming and shaming if the journalist writes an inclusive story with concrete evidences to prove their writings.
Other issues of discussion included reporting on the judiciary in terms of the biases and misinformation, code of ethics for journalists for mindful and ethical reporting, how to draw the line when the case is under sub judice, issues and challenges related to access to the judiciary, and analysis of judgments.
To have better understanding, the judiciary presented their expectations from the media and similarly the media explained their expectations from the judiciary. It was the first ever workshop held between the judiciary and the media.
The workshop was organized by Journalist Association of Bhutan (JAB) and Bhutan National Legal Institute (BNLI) with funding support from Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, President of BNLI, graced the opening of the workshop.