Sindh cabinet forms commission for protection of journalists

By: News Desk
Published: 08:05 PM, 16 Nov, 2022
Sindh cabinet forms commission for protection of journalists
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The Sindh cabinet on Wednesday approved setting up a commission for the protection of journalists and other media practitioners, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.  

The high-powered commission will serve as a court to receive complaints and also proactively pursue cases of attacks on media workers.

This was announced by administrator Karachi and spokesperson for Sindh government Murtaza Wahab in a post on social media.

In a tweet shared on his official Twitter handle, Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab announced that Justice Rasheed Rizvi will be the first chairperson of the commission.

The commission is to be headed by a former judge as its chairman and will comprise officials from the provincial information, home, law and human rights departments as well as representatives of journalists, editors and employers’ unions, lawyers and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Two members of the provincial assembly will also be part of the body.

In May 2021, Sindh Assembly unanimously passed the Sindh Protection of Journalists and other Media Practitioners’ Bill-2021 to provide an institutional mechanism to help journalists to discharge their professional duties without any threat or compulsion.

The bill contains the provision to establish a commission to ensure the protection of journalists. The bill envisages due action against elements that obstruct journalists from discharging their professional duties.

According to the law, the commission will look into complaints filed “in respect of acts of harassment, sexual harassment, violence, and threats of violence committed against a journalist or media practitioner”, whether perpetrated by “any person or groups of persons or public or private institution or authority.”

The commission, which will exercise the powers of a civil court, will also be able to take suo moto notice of attacks on journalists and media practitioners, recommend appropriate action to the government, direct an immediate and expeditious investigation and ensure speedy trials.

It is pertinent to note that Pakistan ranks 145 out of 180 countries on the media rights watchdog, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2021 World Press Freedom Index. 

Reports of journalists being intimidated, threatened, beaten, abducted, harassed, or even killed are not uncommon in the country, which stands as the fifth most dangerous place for the profession, according to the International Federation of Journalists.

In Sindh alone, at least one journalist has been killed in the current year. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, at least two were picked up and then released and one was killed in 2020. At least 25 FIRs have reportedly been lodged against various journalists in Sukkur alone over the past 18 months.

Earlier in February this year, the then Sindh information minister Saeed Ghani had assured that the provincial government would form a commission in order to ensure safety of media people, as envisaged in the Sindh Protection of Journalists and Other Media Practitioners Act-2021.

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