May 31, 2021
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), have welcomed landmark legislation—the Sindh Protection of Journalists and Other Media Practitioners Bill 2021—passed unanimously by the Sindh Assembly on May 28.
They commended this breakthrough and the initiative taken by journalist unions, human rights groups, and lawmakers in Sindh to protect the rights of media workers.
The journalist protection bill was drafted in consultation with journalist representative organizations, including the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) and PFUJ.
The bill attempts to ensure the protection of media workers in Sindh and envisions the creation of a “Commission for Protection of Journalists and Other Media Workers” to proactively protect journalists under the new law. The commission comprises government officials and “non-official members,” including PFUJ representatives. It is responsible for producing an annual report on “the State of Safety and Security of Journalists and Media Practitioners in the Province of Sindh.”
The bill also requires employers to provide adequate insurance and training for media workers “at risk of being attacked, injured or killed because of their work.” It enshrines protection against disclosing professional sources of information and introduces a range of requirements for the government to protect journalists. The government is now required to provide legal assistance for the protection of journalists. The bill seeks to ensure laws related to counter-terrorism or security are not arbitrarily used to hinder the work of journalists.
According to the IFJ’s South Asia Press Freedom Report 2020-21, Truth in a time of contagion: The viral frontline, nine journalists were killed in Pakistan last year, including one in Sindh on March 18, 2021.
The PFUJ said: “With the support of Journalists' Trade Bodies like PFUJ and KUJ, the Assembly of the Province of Sindh has unanimously passed the Sindh Protection of Journalists and other Media Practitioners Bill 2021.”
The IFJ said: “The passing of the Sindh journalist protections bill is a significant milestone in Pakistan when it comes to ending impunity for crimes against journalists. The IFJ hopes that the passing of this bill will allow for good faith consultation between the government and journalists’ unions to ensure the protection of journalists now and for years to come.”—IFJ media release/Photo courtesy: The News
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