ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly unanimously passed the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill on Monday.
Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Farrukh Habib, in a tweet, said that the bill was prepared by the Ministry of Human Rights after consulting journalist groups.
Habib lauded the efforts of Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari and Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry who “played a significant role in preparing the draft of the bill”.
Assistance was also sought from National Assembly’s Committee on Human Rights and the Opposition, the state minister added.
جرنلسٹس اینڈ میڈیا پروفیشنلز تحفظ کا بل 2021 قومی اسمبلی سے متفقہ طور پر پاس ہوگیا ہے۔ اس بل کو بنانے میں @ShireenMazari1 @fawadchaudhry نے بھرپور کردار ادا کیا ہے۔ میڈیا نمائندوں کی تجاویز کو شامل کیا گیا۔— Farrukh Habib (@FarrukhHabibISF) November 8, 2021
قومی اسمبلی کی کمیٹی برائےانسانی حقوق اور اپوزیشن کا تعاون بھی شامل ہے
The Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari also announced the news on Twitter.
Finally today NA passed our Journalist Protection Bill plus 5 other HR bills incl criminalizing Enforced Disappearances with section 514:2, added by SC on Int, removed thru amendment by me in NA. Also r Bill expanding def of harassment of women at workplace thru amend passed.— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) November 8, 2021
According to the Ministry of Human Rights, the bill comprises of five parts— preliminary, rights of journalists and media professionals, training and insurance of journalists, investigation and redress, and miscellaneous.
The bill provides comprehensive definitions of ‘journalists’ and ‘media professionals’. It further prescribes rights to journalists and media professionals which include every journalist and media professional’s right to life and security of person, as contained in Article 9 of the Constitution.
The bill also sheds light on journalists and media professionals’ right to be allowed to carry out their journalistic work in conflict-affected areas within the country, without threats, intimidation, harassment or fear of persecution or targeting.
It allows to report its findings on any institution or organisation who is, directly or indirectly, involved in violating, or attempting to violate, the rights to life and protection against ill-treatment safeguarded in Section 3 to the federal government and recommend an appropriate course of action against the perpetrator(s) of these violations.
The bill assures the right to the safeguarding of the confidentiality of sources, of journalists or media professionals, Ministry of Human Rights added.
It further asks the government to take all steps to protect journalists and media professionals from all forms of abuse, violence and exploitation at the hands of any person, institution (private or public) or authority.
Right to protection from harassment
The bill aims to institute Journalist Welfare Scheme whereby each media owner shall produce a comprehensive, written safety policy and protocols for journalists and media professionals.
The Ministry of Human Rights said that the bill provides for the establishment of the Commission for Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals that shall include members from Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and National Press Club (NPC) and Representatives from the Ministry of Human Rights and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The bill empowers the commission to provide redressal to journalists by inquiring into their complaints of threats, or acts of torture, killing, violent attacks, arbitrary arrest, arbitrary detention and harassment, and determining cases that are eligible for compensation from relevant federal and provincial funds.
The lower house passed six other bills including the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Amendment) Bill, 2021, National Commission on the Rights of Child (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Juvenile Justice System (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Islamabad Capital Territory Child Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and Enforced Disappearances Bill: Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021.