Journalists and media workers protection law: Where do we stand today

Three years ago, in Karachi, a senior journalist affiliated with Geo TV was abducted. The journalist’s name was Ali Imran Syed. He left the office for home and was abducted near his house. The abductors kept him in their custody for 22 hours and then dropped him off at his mother’s house.

He remembers the incident of his abduction well. Ali Imran Syed informed us over the phone that it was Friday evening, October 23, 2020, when he was abducted by armed men from a bakery near his house. The main issue was a video. The abductors repeatedly questioned him about his work while physically assaulting him. Ali succeeded in obtaining “exclusive footage” which clearly contained evidence that was embarrassing for certain institutions.

Ali believes that this was the reason why he was abducted and subjected to pressure. It was the era of social media, so voices were raised from all sides, which led to the abductors being under pressure and they had to release those people within 22 hours, thanks to the involvement of international and national journalist organizations and human rights organizations. Voices were raised from all sides and there was a lot of noise

What does the law say about the protection of journalists and media workers?

For the first time in Pakistan, a commission for the protection of journalists and media workers was formed in Sindh.

In 2021, former federal minister Shehryar Mazari passed the Journalist and Media Protection Bill in consultation with legal experts and other journalist organizations. In May 2021, a similar bill was presented in the Sindh Provincial Assembly, and it was given legal form on August 4, 2021, when President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi signed it into law.

According to both national and provincial laws, journalists are not bound to disclose their sources of information. The law also states that the protection of journalists’ lives and property is the responsibility of the state under Article 19. Where every Pakistani has the right to freedom of expression, a journalist’s life should not be affected by their work. The law also states that no other law can prevent journalists from carrying out their work.

To address complaints under this law, a formal commission will be established. The commission will be headed by retired judges who will have the status of a high court judge. The commission includes representatives from all four provinces and the federal union of journalists, as well as representatives from press clubs of all four provinces. In addition, representatives from the Ministry of Information and Human Rights will also be included.

The basic responsibility of the commission will be to address incidents of abduction, violence, threats, etc., against journalists and media workers… [omitted]


Source: PPF

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