Media's role in curbing corruption

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Colombo, June 12 : A United Nations Development Programme report released today suggested that media can play an important role in curbing corruption in Asia-Pacific region.

The report said: "In order to loosen the stranglehold of corruption, cleaning up the police, health, education and environment sectors should be a top political priority in the Asia-Pacific region.

The report highlighted a positive role of the media in exposing corruption.

Strong media can boost anti-corruption efforts in Asia and the Pacific but serious constraints still impede the full power of the press to report on corruption, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said adding that the media represents a key ingredient to keep governments and private businesses honest.

"Tackling corruption is not a job of the government alone," said Omar Noman, Chief of Policies and Programmes, UNDP Regional Centre in Colombo, at the launch of the Report.

"The media and individual citizens all need to stay alert, demanding the highest ethical standards and resolving to reject corruption wherever it appears," he said.

The report also suggested that it is important to empower the media, enact laws on the right to information and increase in the use of information technology to make governments more transparent.

In many countries with the most open media, including India, Philippines and Indonesia, media coverage has helped to create public pressure to tackle corruption.

The report said that without a free press, the situation in these countries would have been far worse. A powerful way to control corruption is to enact laws on the right to information (RTI), as has been done in India.

"Public officials need to be engaged and convinced about the value of right to information - and develop the ability to deal with requests promptly and appropriately," says Anuradha Rajivan, head of UNDP's Regional Human Development Report Unit.

"At the same time, the media and other parts of civil society must learn how to use right-to-information systems responsibly," she says.

Community radio stations or broadcast outlets run by non-profit groups can act as a means for keeping corruption in check, especially in poor or remote areas.

The Report said that media's potential can be enhanced for exposing corruption aimed through many ways. Following are some of them:

Setting benchmarks for national media - press, radio, TV and the Internet - on characteristics that affect their ability to expose corruption.

These could include type of ownership, editorial independence, freedom from censorship and the extent of competition. Building the media as a democratic institution, establishing legal frameworks to allow the media to play its role as a watch group and safeguarding press independence and freedom.

Building journalism as a profession, raising skill levels and ethical standards and improving working conditions and salaries.

Ensuring people's access to the media. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN's global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build better lives. UNDP works in 37 countries in Asia-Pacific.

ANI

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