SAFMA conference demands full media freedom
ISLAMABAD: Journalists, media experts, lawyers and civil society representatives on Friday asked the government to lift all curbs on the media and vowed to continue their fight against the restrictions imposed by successive regimes to curtail the freedom of speech.
“We will continue to oppose all restrictions on the media whether they are old or new,” they said while addressing a day-long national conference on “Media Freedom, Media Laws and Security of Media Persons and Places” jointly organised by South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) and South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) at a local hotel.
The participants also adopted ‘Code of Ethics for Media’, which bounds the media persons to strictly maintain professional integrity, independence and fairness while reporting. The code also demands accountability and responsibility from professional journalists.
The conference also asked the government to abrogate all anti-media laws at the earliest, as they had been persistently abused to scare the media persons and organisations. They also asked the owners of the media organisations to improve the working conditions of journalists who risked their lives while in the field. They also demanded immediate implementation of the new wage board award.
The conference adopted nine resolutions demanding removal of curbs on the media, improving security of journalists operating in conflict zones, and relaxation of visa for journalists.
In a separate resolution, the conference expressed shock over the brutal killing of a TV reporter, Muhammad Ibrahim, and demanded an independent inquiry into the murder and due compensation for his family. They also demanded release of an inquiry report on the killing of Hayatullah Khan.
Imtiaz Alam, SAFMA secretary general, called for creating a special fund for the welfare of journalists by imposing 10 per cent levy on advertisements. He rejected the impression that the media was trying to destabilise the transition towards democracy. He criticized President Musharraf by terming him as illegal and unconstitutional president.
Justice (r) Tariq Mehmood said that lawyers wanted the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution. He vowed to strengthen the country’s political setup by defeating conspiracies. He said lawyers would not accept the Nov 3 steps of President Musharraf.
Veteran journalist Minhaj Barna urged continuous struggle for ensuring the freedom of speech. He said monopolisation of media outlets by fewer owners would result in more media restrictions.
Human right activists I A Rehman presented a review of various anti-media laws and said not only media-specific act and ordinances should be amended, but also laws in the other statues curbing freedom of speech should be removed.
Source: Daily Times