Journalists’ safety: Senate body for foolproof arrangements
The Sub-Committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Information Broadcasting and National Heritage on Friday recommended the government and the media houses to make foolproof arrangements for the safety of journalists. The committee, which met with Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan in the chair here, discussed a private member’s bill titled, “The Protection of Journalist Bill 2014” introduced by MNA Sahibzada Tariqullah and a similar kind of bill “the Journalists Protection and Welfare Bill 2011” introduced in the Senate by Professor Khurshid Ahmed.
Media workers performing their duties in far flung areas like Balochistan and Federally Administrative Tribal Areas (FATA) are facing serious challenges and the government should make arrangements for their safety, the committee observed. The committee further directed the representatives of the journalist community to formulate such a mechanism in collaboration with the media owners so that life and property of journalists during protests and sit-inns could be protected.
In recent Islamabad Dharna (sit in) by religious groups many media workers including reporters and cameramen were not only tortured but their equipments were also damaged by the protestors, so the need of the hour is to formulate security protocol for journalists working under such situations, Chairman Committee said.
Journalist Afzal Butt and others while briefing the committee on the subject stressed the need for safety of journalists and said that it must be top priority of the government and media houses that welfare of journalists should also be included in the bill. Chairman committee asked the representatives of the journalists to raise the issue with the owners of media houses as journalists were performing their duties for the media houses.
The committee recommended the government to make arrangements for the implementation of 8th Wage Board award. The committee also urged the Ministry of Interior to direct officials of Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) to unfreeze bank accounts of Bol Television Network so that the outstanding salaries of the past 11 months could be paid to the employees.
Shahid-ur-Rehman, senior journalist and member of PFUJ Unification Committee, said the families of deceased journalists were living in deplorable and helpless conditions therefore efforts should be made for the welfare of deceased journalists’ families.
The committee should continue its work till the holding of fresh election of PFUJ. “The fresh election of PFUJ would be held in a month or two,” he said. The meeting suggested that the term “journalist” should be substituted by “media person” so as to cover everyone associated with the profession of journalism – print as well as electronic media.
The meeting further suggested that newspapers and TV channels may be granted 1 to 2 percent enhancement in advertisement rates and the proceeds may be diverted for utilisation as per rule for protection and welfare of media persons. The participants of the meeting also suggested international media houses to have their own security protocols which may be taken into consideration as far as the framing of legislation is concerned.