Better legal mechanisms to defend journalists urged
Islamabad: Attack on journalists during duty should be considered an act of terrorism. This was discussed at a media consultation session that concluded on Wednesday, said a press release issued by the Press Council Pakistan (PCP).
The participants stressed on the increased role of legal aid committees of lawyers’ bodies for the protection of human rights, particularly in the cases of media attacks. The bar councils and associations should provide legal aid to the journalists in order to protect the right to freedom of expression at all levels.
“We resolve to work together for an enabling environment for the exercise of fundamental rights of freedom of expression and information in accordance with the international law, and join hands to combat impunity against journalists,” said a speaker. The participants agreed to form networks of representative associations of lawyers and journalists in the country.
PCP Chairman Raja Shafqat Abbasi said that in spite of intolerance and violence in the society and lack of professional skills, journalists have been playing an important role. He said media houses should ensure the safety of their workers and provide them with job security. Media houses should also arrange for trainings for their workers, especially those working in conflict areas like Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Abbasi said that the Saleem Shahzad commission report had empowered PCP to receive complaints even against agencies. If any complaint received, PCP will act accordingly, he said, adding that they had taken many notices to resolve the issues that were threatening journalists and media.
“Though PCP lacks citizen’s representation, it is still a positive forum where owners of media houses and the representatives of media associations and elected representatives can sit together to resolve issues related to the freedom of press,” Abbasi said.
Participants on the occasion also stressed on the need legislation for the protection of journalists to combat impunity for those who attack journalists and media. However, they said such legislation must take place in coordination with advancement in other areas of criminal law as it can meet the requirements of the constitution.
They added that investigation and prosecution processes should be improved to increase the ratio of conviction through fair trials and special prosecutor should be introduced.