Monthly Archives: January 2017

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To Provide for protection of the Jounalists

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[ TO BE INTRODUCED IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ]
A
BILL

to provide for protection of the jounalists

WHEREAS the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan guarantees the protection, honour and respect of every citizen;

WHEREAS it is required that the journalists should be provided protection to perform their duties in better and
just manner so that they can become responsible journalists of the nation;

WHEREAS it is expedient to enact the following law with regard to the protection of journalists;
It is hereby eneacted as follows:-

1. Short title, extent and commencement:-

(1) This Act may be called “the Protection of Journalists Act, 2014.
(2) It shall be extended to the whole of Pakistan.
(3) It shall come into force at once.

2. Definitions:- In this Act, unless there is anything contrary to the subject or context.

(i) “Protection” means all those protective measures, which is the right of every Pakistani citizen, while remaining in the limits of Constitution and the law and it also includes those journalists who is legally residing in Pakistan. “Protection” includes all those methods and means which the government adopts for the protection of journalists, their children and other family members.

(ii) “Environment” means the environment in which a journalist is performing his responsibilities or the place where a journalist proceeds for special reporting.

(iii) “Journalism” means to publish news and information packages, pictures, recording, writing, modification, reporting, analysis or news or information regarding local, national, international events and of matters of Public interest.

(iv) “Journalist” means such person (male and female) who within constitutional and legal parameters prepares regularly news items, informations, reflections, recordings, writings, modifications, reports, analysis regarding local, national, internal events and other matters of public interest within the scope of legal and constitutional limits, media workers will also be included in the same.

3. Protection of Journalists from disclosing the sources of information:- Journalists will not be forced to disclose their sources of information except the disclosure of matters which relate to the National Security. Supreme Court of Pakistan shall have the power to inquire about the sources.

4. Provision of Special Protection to journalists:-

(a) The Government will provide special protection to the persons discharging their duties as journalists in any institution (Federal or Provincial) so that they make it sure to discharge their duties amicably.

(b) Access and coverage without any delay protection will be ensured to discharge their professional duties by journalists as required in the places under control of the government including all public places but excluding high security military zones.

(c) officials working in all government organizations in any grade, will ensure facilitation to the journalists with protection and respect during discharge of their assignment.

5. Special Security initiatives for immediate protection of journalists at their residences:-

(a) The Government will provide on spot security to the journalists on their request.

(b) The SHO of respective area will provide the demanded protection and security to the journalists in case they receive any threat or are in need of security protection.

(c) If any untoward incident takes place at any place and the concerned SHO takes no step despite being informed, the SHO shall be held responsible for any harm caused to a journalist.

6. Establishment of National Press Council for rapid resolution of journalistic problems:- A national press council shall be set up, whose membership shall consist of one representation each from Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Council, All Pakistan Newspaper Society, Pakistan Broadcasters Association, Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors and Chairman, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority. Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Secretary Ministry of Interior and at least one representative of an independent media development organization registered under laws of Pakistan shall also be a member of the National Press Council.

7. Functions of National Press Council:-

(a) To give proposals and programmes to the Government with reference to the protection and problems faced by the journalists during their duty.

(b) To introduce mechanism for the solution of the problems of journalists.
(c) To create conductive atmosphere in order to endure opportunities of personal development, progress and education for the journalists working in private and public sectors.
(d) To ensure prompt implementation on the complaints of journalists.
(e) To arrange seminars, consultative programmes, conferences and Round Table talks for the protection of journalists and to maintain the dignity of their work.
(f) To mediate in cases related with the payment of wages and other benefits between and Media owners and employees.
(g) All such other steps deemed necessary for achieving the objectives of the Act.

8. To support the role of media as the custodian of public interest:-

(a) The Government shall ensure to provide facilities and supports to the journalists according to their status as the guardian of public interests for ensuring effectively the freedom of expression as provided under Article 19 of the Constitution.

(b) Every Government Institution (Federal or Provisional) shall ensure the co-operation that media enjoys the right to acquire information including the unpublished information under Article 19(a) of the Constitution.

(c) The Government shall ensure protection and its support to the women journalists during discharging of their professional duties against any in-discriminatory behavior or sexual harassment in any way and shall bind the institutions to establish a separate working environment for women.

9. Application of this act:- This act will apply to all such permanent, temporary contract and contingent journalists who work in all the present media institutions or work as freelance, but, are registered properly with any media organization, press club or journalists union and media members, shall include therein.

10. Power to enact laws:- Federal Government shall have the power to enact laws to achieve the objectives of this act through notification in the official gazette; provided that such laws are not contrary to the objects of this act. In such situation, these would nullify automatically.

11. Jurisdiction:- The case regarding the murder and kidnapping of any journalist would be prosecuted in a special court.

12. Punishment:- A person who willfully intervenes in the work of any journalist or causes to stop him from performing his responsibilities, or deprives him from his rights which he enjoys under this act or violates the rules of this act in any way, he will be liable to fine which will not be less or more than 55 thousands (as the case may be), or he will be awarded such punishment, which will not be less or more than six months, or on Court discretion, he will be punishable with both sentences at the same time on the basis of intensity of offence.

13. Repeal:- All such laws, administrative directives and rules of regulations which are in conflict with the contents of this act, would stand repealed.

14. Remove of difficulties:- If any kind of difficulty arises in giving effect to any section of this  act, the Government will pass such orders and take such steps which are necessary to remove such difficulties and through which object of this act could be achieved.

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS

Unfortunately, journalists who are the basic source of news and information are being targeted, though; media is a  source of creating awareness in the society about National and International issues. Yet, It is an apathy that media itself is deprived and there is no particular law in Pakistan for their safety. Due to non existence of legal protection, violence has become common practice on journalists, harass them, kill them and severely injure them while they are discharging their responsibilities. It is a fact that more than eighty journalists have been killed since 1st January, 2000 to date and meanwhile the incidents of attacks, violence, murder, kidnapping, harassment, detentions or frighten the journalists were committed against more than two thousand journalists. It is also a fact that neither murderer of any murdered journalist could have been arrested so far nor any sentence after prosecuting the culprits was awarded. Although the sentence has been awarded in Wali Babar case but the criminals are still absconders. While, approximately, eight persons including witnesses, investigator and lawyers pursuing the case have been killed.

It is necessary to mention that it is the ffundamental responsibbilities of the incumbent Government to provide protection to the lives of a reporter, cameraman, photographer and such other all persons belonging to print and electronic media and other citizens.

It is proposed in the above mentioned Act that such security measures be taken in future through establishment of National Press Council that the problems of journalist community could be reduced, security must be provided to the families of those whose dear ones died or injured or kidnapped during performance of their duties.

However, all the purpose of the said law is to ensure the protection of journalists, so that they could perform their professional responsibilities in a better way.

If, the above mentioned law is passed, it will prove to be the best precedent for the whole world with regard to freedom and protection of Pakistan media.

Sd/-
Sahibzada Tariq Ullah
Sahibzada Muhammad Yaqub
Mr. Sher Akbar Khan
Ms. Aisha Syed,
Members, National Assembly


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Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists terms 2007 as the bad year for journalists

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Six journalists were killed, three of them while performing their professional duties, 73 were injured, mostly by the police in the worst year for? the journalists?in a decade while media remained under government pressure through laws and threat, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), said in a report release on Sunday.

Unprecedented incidents of violence and curbs on media remained the hallmark of 2007,” PFUJ said in a report at the end of the year.

Beside killing of journalists media houses were attacked, raided by the police and security agencies and freedom of the Press came under attack as a result of two ordinance against media after the promulgation of emergency.

Those journalists killed include Zubair Ahmed Mujahid of daily Jang, who was killed in Mirpurkhas by unidentrified men, Mehboob Khan, freelance journalist killed in Charsada, during the bomb blast on the rally of former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Noor Ahmed Khan, killed in Bajour during a roadside blast, Javed Khan, photojournalists for daily Markaz was killed while covering Lal masjid battle in Islamabad, Mohammad Arif Khan, cameraman of ARYONE WORLD, killed during the bomb blast on Benazir Bhutto’s procession on October 18, and Rab Nawaz Chandio, reporter for daily Halchal, killed by unknown person in Thatta.

PFUJ, the representative body of the journalists in Pakistan , said the year witnessed “growing menace of police brutality” against journalists as some 73 journalists including photo-journalists, cameramen were badly beaten, causing serious injuries to at least 30, who go head injuries. The latest was on December 17, when Aaj reporter Mohammad Usman was admitted to hospital after several head injuries.

Throughout the year the private news channels remained under pressure and as a result time and again GEO, ARY, Aaj, SINDH TV, KTN, Kyber were put off air, but on Nov 3rd, some 45 channels and two FM-radio were put off air through a verbal orders of the authorities for over three weeks.

PFUJ launched a protest movement against the curbs on the media, which has now been suspended after 55 days due to the tragic death of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The campaign was launched?for the withdrawal of antiPress laws, lifting of restrictions and ban on tv channels, held protest rallies, demonstration and set-up camps during which over 200 journalists were detained, several were beaten by police.

– Later, government allowed all channels and FM-99 and 103, after seeking “assurance,” but the mainstream news channels GEO news and GEO Supper (Sports) remained off air.

Worst violent incident against journalists took place on September 29th, in Islamabad, when police attacked journalists outside the Election Commission office. At least 43 were injured, many recieved head injuries while on the same day in Peshawar, police injured four journalists during a protest against Islamabad incident. The ex-CJP after a suo-moto action suspended senior police officials after looking into the evidence and vedio of police brutality. Earlier, in March, police used baton-charge against journalists covering the rally of former chief justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, in which 10 journalists were injured. Police were again found involve in beating journalists in Lahore and last month in Karachi, during which several journalists were injured.

PFUJ, is deeply concerned and shocked over treatment of journalists across the country on the hands of state machinery. The year have seen an unprecedented rise in violence against journalists with some areas. Reporting become most difficult in the militancy hit areas like Wana, Wazirstan, Swat and the nearby areas. Journalists also faced difficculties in reporting in many parts of Baluchistan and interior of Sindh, particularly if they report on Baluchistan operation or on forced marriages, jirga in Sindh. Tw reporters Latif Khosa and Riaz Mengal were kidnapped in Baluchistan while three reporters left their native towns in Sindh, after reporting on social issues.The media house which came under attack include Aaj office in Karachi, GEO in Islamabad, by the armed groups and police respectively.

Professional hazzards at the hands of law enforcement agencies become order of the day, and Union receieved complaints from different parts of the country, during which security officials either seized cameras or removed films.

PFUJ also blamed the pressure groups for threatening journalists in different parts of the country. While journalists working in the tribal areas in NWFP regularly complaints about threats from militants, journalist Riaz Mengal was abducted on the orders of an influential Sardar. In Karachi, an ethnic group MRC, issued a “list of journalists,” whom they considered chavanists. Few days later, bullets in envlop were found in cars of three journalists. “These threats made job most difficult for journalists with general elections round the corner,” PFUJ observed.

ANTI-MEDIA LAWS AND CLOSURE OF CHANNELS :

 

Pakistan’s mainstream private tv news channels remained under pressure throughout the year. Even before the closure of around 45 tv channels, mainly news channels on November 3, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which suppopsed to regulate things infact turned into a “police force.” The three mainstream news channels GEO, ARY and Aaj, become the prime target but even regional news channels like KTN, SINDH TV, KHYBER were not spared.

Channels were forced not to telecast programmes on Baluchistan operation, kept news not favourable to government in low key. Several channels informed PFUJ that at least on 11 occassions their channels were put off air through cable operators.

After an illegal action on Nov 3, when all tv channels went off air government allowed all channels and two main FM radio, Power-99 and Mast-103, after most of them were compelled to sign an undertaking and the so called code of conduct, but even they are not free to report according to “editorial decisions.” They can not take free decisions about their “talk shows.”

GEO and all their other channels, Jang group become the worst target as they are reportedly been told to “sack,” at least three anchors from GEO, and two reporters from The NEWS.

“The struggle is on and will continue till the repeal of anti-media laws and for the cause of freedom of the Press in the country,” PFUJ said.

Following are the details of the Journalist’s killed :-

Mehboob Khan, freelance, April 28, 2007, Charsadda

 

Photographer Khan was killed in a suicide bomb attack aimed at Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao. The minister escaped with minor injuries, but 28 people died in the attack at a political rally in the small town of Charsadda in Pakistan ‘s North-West Frontier Province.

Three other journalists were injured: ATV cameraman Arif Yousafzai; Siddiqullah, a reporter for the Urdu-language paper Subah; and reporter Ayaz Muhammad of the Associated Press of Pakistan.

Khan, a 22-year-old who had recently begun his journalism career, had contributed photos to local and national publications. He was believed to be working at the time.

Follow-up reports said the bomber was believed to have been a teenage male, and that security at the event may have been lax. The federal and provincial governments were investigating the attack, the Daily Times Web site reported.

Noor Hakim Khan, Daily Pakistan , June 2, 2007 , Bajaur

 

Khan, a correspondent for the Daily Pakistan and a vice president of the Tribal Union of Journalists, was one of five people killed by a roadside bomb in the Bajaur region of the North-West Frontier Province , near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

New reports suggest that Hakim was returning from covering a jirga, a traditional court. He had been invited to witness the demolition of a house belonging to the perpetrator of a February car bombing that had killed a local physician. The demolition was part of the disposition of the court case. Khan was traveling with a local official and a tribal chief who had taken a role in the case, according to news reports. Their car was third in a convoy returning from the area, reports said, and it might have been specifically targeted.

Javed Khan, Markaz and DM Digital TV, July 3, 2007, Islamabad

 

Khan, a photographer for the Islamabad-based daily Markaz and a cameraman for U.K.-based DM Digital TV, was shot in the chest and neck while caught in crossfire between government forces and the students of Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, according to media reports. Four other journalists were wounded in the clashes.

News reports said gunfire came from both sides in the standoff. The source of the fatal shots was not immediately clear. Pakistani security forces had surrounded the mosque in an effort to end a months-long standoff. The mosque, generally seen as pro-Taliban, had been the center of efforts to remove what leaders saw as undesirable activity such as massage parlors and music shops.

Muhammad Arif, ARY One World TV, October 19, 2007, Karachi

 

Arif was among more than 130 people killed in an October 19 bombing in Karachi , which took place during a political rally held to celebrate former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming. The cameraman, who was on assignment, was survived by his wife and six children.

Zubair Ahmed Mujahid, Jang, November 23, 2007, Mirpur Khas

 

Mujahid, correspondent for the national Urdu-language daily Jang, was shot dead while traveling on a motorcycle with another journalist in the city of Mirpur Khas in the southern province of Sindh, according to local news reports. He was targeted by unidentified gunmen, also traveling by motorcycle.

Local journalists believed their colleague was slain because of his investigative reporting, according to Owais Aslam Ali, secretary-general of the local media group Pakistan Press Foundation. Mujahid was known for his critical writing on a variety of issues—including alleged mistreatment of the poor by local landlords and police—in his Jang weekly column, “Crime and Punishment.” His coverage of alleged police brutality had led to arrests and suspensions of police officers, Ali told CPJ.

Mujahid was survived by a wife and four sons. No arrests were immediately reported. Rab Nawaz Chandio, Report for Sindhi daily Halchal was killed in Khurshid Colony in Kotri, by unknown persons. However, till date his murder remained a mystery.

Mazhar Abbas,
Secretary General, PFUJ


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Journalists ask govt to protect their lives, properties

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World Press Freedom Day

Hold rallies, seminars across the country; lament increasing intolerance towards freedom of press in country.

ISLAMABAD: Journalist associations organised rallies all over the country to mark the World Press Freedom Day in the face of potential threats by the state, establishment and non‐state actors that have shrunk the space for free press in Pakistan.

A big rally was jointly organised by the National Press Club (NPC) and Rawalpindi‐Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ), and the participants raised slogans in favour of the freedom of press. The written material distributed on the occasion revealed that Pakistan media were facing multiple threats to its freedom. Year 2016 started with many unfortunate incidents including attack on the offices of a private news channel and killing of a television journalist in Jamrud. According to the 2016 World Press Freedom Index, released by Reporters Without Borders, Pakistan is placed at number 147 out of 180 countries. India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Thailand and even Palestine are better than Pakistan with regard to the freedom of press. The annual report by Freedom Network showed that in the year 2014, 14 journalists were killed, but it was the year 2015 that had really proved to be the year of gags and curbs on free speech. Addressing the participants of the rally, NPC President Shakeel Anjum said journalists had been rendering services for the freedom of press for the last many decades and they would continue their struggle for the cause in the face of potential threats.

“Now the time has come to find out the ways and means not only to identify the real elements who dislike freedom of press but also get rid of them to present real facts to the people,” he said. RIUJ President Ali Raza Alvi said Pakistani media were facing the worst kind of harassment all‐over the country as there was no presence of independent media in many districts of Balochistan where a couple of journalists had been included in the list of criminals.

He said: “The reporters, photographers and cameramen work in the conflict areas where there are always dangers to their lives. But they never compromise on their work and bring real facts before the people.”

He said if the government and other non‐state actors continue their efforts against the freedom of press then the journalists community would take aggressive stance and snatch its liberty from the clutches of the ‘evil nexus’.

RIUJ General Secretary Bilal Dar said Pakistan had been declared the most dangerous country for journalists in the world that underlined the fact that the incumbent government had completely failed to provide security to the media persons.

Our Lahore correspondent adds: A seminar was organised in Lahore on the topic of ‘The Role of Media in Stability of Pakistan’ by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Lahore Press Club and Punjab Union of Journalists at a local hotel.

Senior columnist Munno Bhai told the seminar participants that the press freedom was crucial for development and welfare of a society. He said providing media workers a safe environment was a responsibility of the media organisation owners and the government authorities.

Opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Mahmoodur Rasheed said that the government was spending millions of rupees on personal projection. Democracy doesn’t mean that people keep dying for lack of facilities and the government play only the role of a spectator, he added. He assured the media persons of full support of the opposition parties.

Senior journalist and anchorperson Arif Nizami said that there was great need for jointly working for the freedom of press.

PFUJ President Rana Muhammad Azeem said media workers had always offered sacrifices for democracy and even laid down their lives. But, regrettably, no media organisation has got its workers insured so far.

Lahore Press Club President Shahbaz Mian said on the occasion that the media workers should pledge on the press freedom day that they would always stand united for safety and welfare of journalists.

PUJ President Shahzad Hussain Butt, speaking on the occasion, said that journalist bodies should always keep struggling for protecting rights of working journalists.

Senior journalist Majeeb‐ur‐Rehman Shami, PUJ Secretary Amir Suhail, LPC Secretary Shadab Riaz,and others also addressed the seminar.

A joint declaration was approved at the end of the seminar. The declaration demanded the federal and provincial governments to protect lives and properties of working journalists. The provincial governments should pass journalist safety bills, the government should ensure salaries according to the wage board award, and link the advertisements bills with payment of salaries to media workers. All media workers should be insured by the respective organisations. The electronic media workers should also be provided a legal platform for redress of their grievances, on the pattern of the Implementation Tribunal for Newspaper Employees (ITNE) forum for the print media workers. The declaration demanded the government take steps for payment of one‐year salaries to those workers who were rendered jobless by the closing of a new private TV channel.

Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party Human Rights Wing also organised a seminar in Lahore in connection with the Press Freedom Day.

Also, in a statement, Punjab Finance Minister Dr Aysha Ghous praised the services of journalist community for the cause of democracy and people’s rights in the country.

APP adds: The theme of the day was ‘Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms’. Every year on May 3, the World Press Freedom is observed across the world and in Pakistan too rallies and seminars in various parts of the country had been arranged to highlight the
importance of freedom of press.

UNESCO had also arranged seminar on the day, attended by UNESCO representative to Pakistan Ms. Vibeke Jensen, ambassador of the embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Pakistan Ms. Jeannette Seppen, Parliamentary Secretary for the information broadcasting Mohisn Shahnawaz Ranjha.

Special Thanks To: The News International


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