Saturday September 18, 2021

PPP legislator submits bill in KP PA Sectt for protection of journalists

June 22, 2021

PESHAWAR: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) Nighat Orakzai on Monday submitted a private member bill in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Secretariat which is aimed at protecting the media professionals.

The bill titled “The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Protection of Journalists and other Media Practitioners Bill, 2021” says “Pakistan ranks 145 out of 180 countries on the media rights (RSF) 2021 World Press Freedom Index and stands as the fifth most dangerous place for the profession, according to the International Federation of Journalists.”

According to the proposed bill, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government should take effective steps to ensure that every journalist and media practitioner's right was provided security under Article 9 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

It stated that journalists should be able to work in conflict-hit areas without threats, intimidation, harassment or fear of prosecution. No government official, agency or institution will force or threaten any journalist or other media practitioner to disclose the identity of their sources of information.

The government will ensure that counter-terrorism or security laws were not arbitrarily used to hinder the work of journalists. Under this act, the employers should be responsible for providing insurance and training to vulnerable journalist and media practitioners who may be at risk because of their work

According to the bill if passed, threat or harassment will be considered as an act of violence. Under this proposed law, a commission for the protection of journalists and other media professionals would be established to look into the complaints about harassment, sexual harassment, violence, and threats of violence against a journalist or media practitioner, whether perpetrated by any person, groups of persons or public or private institution or authority.

The proposed commission will decide within 30 days a complaint filed by a journalist before it. The commission will also have powers to take notice of the attack on a journalist or media professional. The commission then will report to the government within 14 days.

Regarding registering complaints, a website will also be launched for the online registration of complaints and for monitoring cases under review of the commission. The KP will be the second provincial assembly enacting laws for the protection of media professionals, if it passed the bill as the Sindh Assembly has already adopted such a bill after the National Assembly.