Editors for Safety urges PM to approve undiluted version of journalist safety bill

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KARACHI: The Editors for Safety (EfS) has welcomed the move by the Ministry of Human Rights to draft a landmark bill aimed at ensuring safety and security of journalists against intimidation, abduction, torture and murder.

The EfS, a forum comprising a large number of newspaper editors and directors of news at leading television channels, said in a statement on Wednesday that the draft bill, once approved, would be a significant first step in fulfilling a long-standing demand of Pakistani journalists to check the prevailing culture of impunity for crimes against them.

The statement said the bill was presented before the federal cabinet on Tuesday for approval, but for some unexplained reasons the cabinet decided to club it with an earlier bill prepared by the ministry of information and sent it to the law ministry for vetting.

The EfS believed the bill prepared by the human rights ministry was quite comprehensive as it covered key issues, including the setting up of a commission of inquiry under a retired Supreme Court judge, to investigate matters of murder, torture and intimidation of journalists.

“The EfS would like to remind the government that two more journalists were murdered in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkwa over the last 10 days. During the last three decades nearly 70 journalists have been killed in the line of duty, and ironically only three of these cases have been solved.

“We urge Prime Minister Imran Khan to persuade his cabinet to approve the bill in its present form as it provides the necessary safeguards against all forms of threats and intimidation, and allows journalists to perform their professional responsibilities without fear,” said EfS convener Zaffar Abbas.

The EfS also appreciated the hard work and efforts of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for the welfare of journalists, and for improving the laws concerning the fraternity. However, the EfS recalled, it had dedicated its efforts since its inception five years ago to highlight the issue of crimes against journalists and had campaigned to ensure their safety and security.

It urged the government to immediately present the undiluted version of the human rights ministry’s bill before parliament so that it could be passed into a comprehensive law to protect journalists and other media professionals.