International, regional and local journalists and editors are under a professional duty to report and explain human rights issues as precisely as they can.
Communication and Multimedia Ministry secretary-general Sharifah Zarah Syed Ahmad said they were responsible to give the facts, avoid bias and provide context.
"At present, this is not done well enough and as a result, audience that rely on media information are not in a position to understand or judge properly the actions and policies of governments and other authorities, especially pertaining to human rights," she said.
Her speech text was read out by the ministry's international division under-secretary, S Letchumanan, during the Regional Forum on Media and Human Rights in Asean in Kuala Lumpur today.
She said although journalists had expanded coverage of human rights into new areas, many human rights issues were under-reported by the media.
Sharifah Zarah pointed out that human rights were still taken largely to mean 'political and civil rights', and the importance of economic, social and culture rights was largely ignored by the media in their coverage of economic issues.
She said for Asean to remain a region of peace, security and stability, economic growth, prosperity and social progress built on the principles of
democracy, the rule of law and good governance, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedom were of critical importance.
"While governments continue to play their primary role in protecting and promoting human rights, the active participation and support of all sectors of society is essential in our joint efforts towards a better Asean."
Meanwhile, during the forum session, 'Bridging the Gaps between Human Rights & the Role of Media', officer-in-charge of regional office for South-East Asia's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Laurent Meillan, said social media was more active in carrying human rights related news compared to mainstream media in the South-East Asian region.
The Regional Forum on Media and Human Rights in Asean is jointly organised by Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and Foreign Ministry with the support of Communications and Multimedia Ministry, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Regional EU-Asesn Dialogue Instrument and Human Rights Facility.