Over the past year, the Arab Fact-Checkers Network (AFCN) received several complaints from fact-checking members (individuals/initiatives) on some practices that violate AFCN code of principles and professional standards. Considering that AFCN mission is to unify and sustain fact-checking efforts in the Arab world, in order to create a healthy and supportive professional work environment, and based on proposals submitted by AFCN members, as well as research and consultations with international experts in this regard; AFCN would strive to settle complaints submitted only by its signatory members, who signed a memorandum of understanding, and who are committed to AFCN’s code of principles, according to the following policy:
AFCN adjudicates complaints that state clear, repeated and numerous breaches of professional principles. Accordingly, AFCN will not consider any complaints submitted by non-members, or those that include a single incident; in order to save time and effort, and also to leave an opportunity for members to cooperate and provide advice in a friendly and direct manner among themselves.
Annually, AFCN forms a team consisting of 3 individuals (independent experts or employees in organizations/projects related to fact checking) from outside the AFCN community, to carry out the task of handling and settling complaints.
• AFCN will provide its community members with adequate information about team members, their academic credentials, and practical experience.
• The selected team is to be announced at the regular regional meeting held at the end of each calendar year, to commence its work at the beginning of each year for a period of 12 months.
• To ensure fairness and impartiality; the committee will not include any AFCN community members.
• The committee’s work is voluntary and will not be renumerated.
The committee shall handle complaints that fulfill the aforementioned conditions, according to the following procedure:
• Seriously and impartially examining the content of submitted complaints.
• Checking and analyzing the content of complaints within 15 working days from the date of their submission. During this period, communication takes place with the complainant and the defendant, and each party is invited separately to a meeting to discuss details, if necessary. In the event that more time is required for verification and analysis, the committee must inform the complainant.
• The committee holds internal meetings; to discuss the results of verification and interviews with both parties.
• The committee makes its decision independently, based on the above, and final decisions regarding complaints should be adopted unanimously.
• The committee submits its report on the complaint to AFCN management, and the complainant and the defendant are to be informed clearly and explicitly with the documented results of verification and analysis.
• The committee shall follow up on the defendant's commitment not to repeat the violation.
• In the event of a violation of any of AFCN principles; a period of time is determined for the defendant to remedy the violation and to renew commitment to AFCN principles.
• In the event of non-compliance with addressing the violation, the committee shall submit its report to AFCN management to decide which course of action to recommend, including: Whether or not to freeze their membership in some or all AFCN activities and events, or to suspend their AFCN community membership.
• Committee members are obligated not to directly communicate with the complainant and the defendant, and to communicate through official channels only that includes all members of the committee.
• On an annual basis, AFCN management shall provide a summary of the resolved complaints to the AFCN community.