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Media should report corruption cases in a responsible manner

Update: December, 26/2014 - 09:44

The press should ensure that the information they reveal in corruption cases is objective and accurate, Truong Minh Tuan, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications tells Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

How do you respond to the news that quite a few senior government officials who have retired possess disproportionately large real estate assets?

Media is an important information channel in the fight against corruption. This has been regulated in the Law on Anti- Corruption and various Government Decrees.

The Decree 47/2007 devotes an entire chapter on the role of the media in the fight against corruption.

I should say that the media have, on their own, detected, collected and provided important information relating to alleged corruption cases in a timely manner.

However, investigations into alleged corruption should be objective and in line with the law, and the investigators must hold high their social responsibility, rights and obligations.

In the case of former Government Chief Inspector Tran Van Truyen and other local government officials, the media was in the vanguard of bringing to light the major corruption cases. Don't you think that this reflects journalists' high sense of responsibility in the fight against corruption?

As I have mentioned above, media agencies and media workers have the right to investigate and write stories about corruption cases or campaign to fight corruption. Chief editors and reporters have to take responsibility for their stories before the law, including the Press Law.

However, in the fight against corruption, journalists can't do the job by themselves. They can't work on behalf of legal agencies.

Regarding certain former government officials, I think, reporters may have gathered sufficient documents indicating possession of land use certificates are not in line with the existing Land Law, or that their houses are built without official permits or other (violations).

But, based on these pieces of evidence, the public has hastily jumped to conclusions that these are corruption cases.

In such cases, I think the media should be pioneers in detecting information, particularly loopholes in legal documents and then report these to authorised agencies for further investigation. They cannot became the investigators themselves.

Many senior government leaders have openly stated there are no "forbidden zones" for the media. But so far, the media has only reported on assets possessed by retired senior government officials or their "violations." What about incumbent government officials?

This is reflected in the Press Law in Viet Nam. They are not allowed to write stories that are detrimental to national interest; any organisations or individuals; or the disclosure of national military secrets.

The chief editors of media agencies have to take full responsibility for stories written by their subordinates.

It is not easy to say this piece of information is reliable or not reliable when it has not been verified. Do you agree?

Well, I think law protecting agencies have to duty to verify the information source is reliable or not. For example, regarding the case of former Government Chief Inspector Tran Van Truyen, I think that if the media agencies have evidence of his wrongdoing, I would tell them to please send it to functional agencies. If they decide to carry the information in their own outlets, they must be sure that it is objective and correct. — VNS

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