Journalists discuss threats and attacks on the media; emphasize the urgent need for journalists’ protection acts and awareness campaigns on RTI laws
Highlighting the alarming rise in instances of threats, attacks on, and detentions of media professionals, journalists emphasized that the continued impunity for perpetrators remains a primary reason why such incidents continue. The journalists gathered in Karachi called for the immediate passage of media safety laws in the provinces of Punjab, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where currently there is no provincial media safety legislation. They also demanded the prompt formation of a Commission for the Protection of Journalists and Other Media Professionals at the federal level.
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) organized a three-day training workshop for PPF Media Safety Fellows in Karachi between July 7 and 9 to understand and address the safety and security concerns faced by journalists across Pakistan. Participants included both men and women journalists from around the country, including Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
During the workshop, participants discussed the challenges journalists face in conducting investigations during which they are subject to harassment, threats, and abductions. In particular, women reporters in rural areas face additional hurdles due to gender-based discrimination and societal expectations. The attendees also expressed their concerns about announced and unannounced censorship imposed by both state and non-state actors.
Leading the workshop, renowned investigative journalist Mubasher Bukhari provided guidance on safety and security tools, as well as effective reporting methods.
Bringing his decades-long experience in journalism, Bukhari guided the participants about the Protection of Journalists and Other Media Professionals Act, investigative tools and interview techniques they can use, and how to report safely.
The participants stressed the importance of implementing the Right to Information (RTI) laws and shared the challenges they face while using RTI laws due to inadequate enforcement of the laws.
Leading a session on RTI laws, RTI expert and activist Raza Ali Gardezi provided participants with information on both provincial and federal level RTI laws in Pakistan. He explained how journalists could craft effective RTI applications and frame accurate questions to obtain timely and necessary information. Participants emphasized the need for enhanced awareness campaigns regarding the provisions of the laws and stronger measures to ensure compliance.
The participants emphasized the need for a united front to tackle the safety concerns of journalists, combat censorship, and promote press freedom.