Call for legislation to protect journalists

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QUETTA: No law in the country explicitly deals with safety of journalists whereas such laws exist in countries like Mexico where special prosecutors are appointed to pursue the cases of slain journalists and provide legal assistance to media workers facing threats, according to experts.

At a seminar organised by the Pakistan Coalition on Media Safety here on Saturday Adnan Rehmat and Iqbal Khattak, representatives of the advocacy group, said a study had revealed that of the 622 journalists killed across the world between 2002 and 2014, as many as 110 belonged to Pakistan. Even then no effort was made to enact a law to deal with the matter.

They said the government had no mechanism to help it implement the UN Action Plan for Safety of Journalists.

They said media organisations had not adopted adequate security strategies, protocols and procedures to reduce the risks to which journalists were exposed.

They advised journalists to motivate legislators, political parties and parliamentary committees to introduce laws on safety of journalists.

Balochistan Minister for Information Abdul Raheem Ziaratwal said militant groups and criminal mafias which came into existence because of the Afghan war were involved in targeted killing of journalists.

Tahir Hussain of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said FIRs were registered under anti-terrorism laws against some Quetta journalists during the tenure of the previous provincial government and alleged that the present government was reluctant to withdraw the cases.

The senior vice-president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Saleem Shahid, said a majority of journalists killed in the country belonged to Baloch­istan but their employers did not even bother to pay compensation to their families.

DAWN

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