ISLAMABAD: A galaxy of media stakeholders on Thursday outlined an action plan to collectively combat impunity against journalists, reduce the level of risk against media and to make journalists safer.
The action plan was unfurled and collectively signed at a National Conference on Safety of Journalists: Combating Impunity” in Islamabad by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan News Agencies Council (PNAC), Peshawar Press Club, Lahore Press Club, Karachi Press Club, National Press Club, Punjab Union of Journalists, Khyber Union of Journalists, Karachi Union of Journalists, Tribal Union of Journalists, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists, and several civil society organizations.
A declaration signed by the conference called for establishment of a “National Alliance of Media on Safety” comprising PFUJ, APNS, PBA, CPNE, PNAC, and other key stakeholders, to outline an action plan on safety of media workers, journalists and owners.
It also urged the setting up of an “Eminent Group of Journalists” (EGJ) to serve as a mediation platform between media workers and media owners, as well as between media and the government authorities and parliament to forge consensus on the issue of safety and promote practical, useful steps to reduce the framework of risks for media.
The declaration called for the appointment of a “Special Prosecutor” to exclusively take up and pursue cases of attacks on media and media workers to promote a culture of justice and accountability.
It also emphasized the development of a “Journalist Safety Bill” that should be tabled in parliament for enactment into a law and the drafting of a “Safety Protocols for Journalists” by the industry outlining minimum safety standards and procedures, based on best practices on safety for media practitioners and that these should be endorsed, adopted and implemented by all media organizations that hire journalists and media workers and other member associations.
The declaration urged that a “Media Legal Aid Fund” should be established to make available resources for journalists to invoke legal processes to pursue justice as one of the key means of combating impunity.
The declaration demanded that the government should facilitate, in consonance with working journalists, an investigation into the deaths of all journalists killed so far to provide justice for their families.
It also called for the signature “codes of journalism ethics” adopted by representative media associations in Pakistan, including PFUJ, APNS, CPNE and PBA, among others, should be amended to make safety of journalists the number one obligation in each one of them.
The conference urged that representative media associations should engage with political parties to include protection of media freedoms as part of party manifestos. It also said that the press clubs should be converted into resource hubs on safety of journalists providing training, tools and technical resources.
The conference was told that a Pakistan Journalists Safety Fund (PJSF) had been established by Intermedia and PFUJ that provides assistance to journalists in distress ranging from in-country relocation, legal and medical aid to financial assistance to families of journalists killed.
The conference was also told that nearly 90 journalists had been killed between 2000 and 2012 and injuries, assaults, arrests, kidnapping and other forms of serious intimidation faced by over 2,000 journalists. On average a journalist has been killed in Pakistan every 50 days between 2000 and 2012 and on an average every 30 days between 2006 and 2012.–Ends
The decleration adopted after this confernce can be read here – Declaration – National Conference
For additional details, please contact Mohsin Saleem (0334-444-0246) of Intermedia.