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Govt introduces Journalists’ Protection Bill in NA

By Our Correspondent
May 22, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday introduced the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill 2021 in the National Assembly. The bill envisages a culture of safety and independence of journalists and media professionals.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says that the Committee for the Protection of Journalists estimates that between 1992 and 2019, at least 61 journalists were killed in Pakistan.

PTI Parliamentarian Lal Chand, who is also a member of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights in the National Assembly, introduced the bill in the House. Earlier, PPP Parliamentarian Dr Nafeesa Shah withdrew her bill on the issue which she had introduced as a private member. She regretted some remarks used by a minister for her but said she does not want to create any controversy on the issue. The statement says in addition to acts of violence that result in the loss of lives of journalists and media professionals, there are equally serious concerns pertaining to acts of intimidation, harassment and coercion of journalists not just in Pakistan but also around the globe. In accordance with Pakistan’s Constitution as well as its international legal commitments, the state of Pakistan has a responsibility to secure the right to freedom of expression within its territory. The protection and promotion of the rights of journalists and media professionals is central to safeguarding the right to freedom of expression. The statements says there is the need for the accountability of all forms of threats and violence against journalists and investigation into all such acts to ensure freedom of media and expression.

According to the bill, the federal government shall constitute an independent commission to be known as the Commission for Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals. The commission chairperson would have a mandatory 20 years experience in law and justice while it would comprise four members from the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, one member each from the National Press Club, one member each from the provincial press clubs, Ministry of Human Rights and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The bill says that each journalist and media professional shall have the right to privacy which includes protection of law against interference in his home, correspondence and family.

The National Assembly was informed on Friday that Pakistan has started local production of COVID-19 vaccine. Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services Nausheen Hamid told the House during the question hour that the first batch of the CanSino vaccine is currently being manufactured at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and this will be available for administration to people by the end of this month. The secretary said that out of the total stock of vaccine doses imported, 91 per cent were purchased by the government while the remaining nine per cent were gifted by China.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said the government is working to revive Pakistan Railways. The private sector is also being involved for this purpose.

Parliamentary Secretary for Industries and Production Aliya Hamza Malik said the government is developing a national industrial policy to strengthen the industrial baseline in the country. She said they are also revising the auto policy for the growth of the automobile sector.