KARACHI: After the federal cabinet decided to make changes in the Ministry of Human Rights’ bill pertaining to the safety of journalists, the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) President Arif Nizami urged the federal government should to have separate laws for the “protection of media persons and media freedom in Pakistan”.
He said the draft bill, which has been approved by the federal cabinet two days back, is actually “a junk and mixture of two separate draft laws presented by the information ministry and the human rights ministry.
The CPNE chief said that the “amalgamated draft bill undermines the significance of safety and protection of media professionals”.
He said that all stakeholders have already submitted their proposals to the federal government in regard the legislation of safety and protections of media professionals. The government must ensure safety and protection of media professionals as guaranteed the constitutions.
The statement followed the concerns made by the Editors for Safety (EfS). In statement on Wednesday, its chief Zaffar Abbas had said: “We [EfS] urge Prime Minister Imran Khan to persuade his cabinet to approve the bill in its present form as it provides the necessary safeguards against all forms of threats and intimidation, and allows journalists to perform their professional responsibilities without fear,” said EfS convener Zaffar Abbas.
The EfS, a forum comprising a large number of newspaper editors and directors of news at leading television channels, said in a statement on Wednesday that the draft bill, once approved, would be a significant first step in fulfilling a long-standing demand of Pakistani journalists to check the prevailing culture of impunity for crimes against them.
The statement said the bill was presented before the federal cabinet on Tuesday for approval, but for some unexplained reasons the cabinet decided to club it with an earlier bill prepared by the ministry of information and sent it to the law ministry for vetting.
The EfS believed the bill prepared by the human rights ministry was quite comprehensive as it covered key issues, including the setting up of a commission of inquiry under a retired Supreme Court judge, to investigate matters of murder, torture and intimidation of journalists.