Urgent steps urged to ensure journalists’ safety

Islamabad: There is need for urgent actions by the state, media and civil society to ensure an enabling environment – including laws, processes and practices – for effective reforms and effective implementation of the rights; while in view of the high casualties of journalists in Pakistan, urgent steps need to be taken to protect them, including appointment of special prosecutors dedicated to investigating attacks against the media and combating impunity against them.”

The resolution passed by the participants of a seminar on Right to Information (RTI) Law and Safety and Security of Journalists, organized by media development organization    Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA) with the support of UNESCO/IPDC at the local hotel of Islamabad.

Pakistan Tehreek –e – Insaf (PTI) MNA Lal Chand Malhi, PPPP Senator Dr Karim Khawaja, Afzal Butt and Khurshid Abbasi of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Adnan Rehmat of CAR, Ammara Durrani of SFCG, Jamil Hashmi, SSP Investigation Islamabad, RIUJs’ Bilal Dar, Mubashir Zaidi, Human Rights defender Lala Hassan and various other representatives of civil society and media organizations participated in the seminar.

While speaking during the seminar, IRADA’s Executive Director Muhammad Aftab Alam shared that the seminar was part of a country wide campaign and consultative process with journalists and civil society groups to explore and understand the issues pertaining to safety and security of journalists as well as significance of RTI Law in combating impunity against the journalists. He mentioned that the consultative meetings were held at all provincial capitals including Gilgit-Baltistan for this purpose.

Speakers at the seminar mentioned that more than 100 journalists have been killed since 2002 and, except a very few cases, no proper investigation had been conducted in any of the incidents. “The heirs of the victims have no access to information about the status of these cases” said Mr. Adnan Rehmat, a renowned media development expert and director of Civic Action Resources.

Jamil Hashmi, SSP Investigation Islamabad mentioned that the police investigation departments lack necessary skills and modern techniques to investigate the issues appropriately but in spite of that police had apprehended many high profile criminals.

The speakers at the seminar demanded effective legal framework to combat impunity as well as effective legislation on Right to Information at Federal level that should ensure protection of whistleblowers as well as provide efficient access to the journalists and citizens to the information in governmental control.

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