IB&NH ministry asked to finalize draft on “Media Protection and Welfare Bill 2016” by Oct 15


ISLAMABAD, Aug 26 (APP): National Assembly’s Standing
Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage on Friday directed the ministry to complete consultation process with media organizations for their input and submit a draft of the “Media Protection and Welfare Bill” by October 15, 2016.
The committee met at the Parliament House under
the Chairmanship of Pir Muhammad Aslam Bodla, MNA to discuss the implementation status of the recommendations made by “The Special Committee to investigate threats to journalists and media Personnel”, in its report presented to the House on March 13, 2013.
The committee observed that the recommendations made by the Special Committee were comprehensive and needed to be implemented to ensure security and welfare of working journalists.
Director General Internal Publicity Wing Nasir Jamal apprised
the Committee about the consultative process with the media representative organizations and other stakeholders to draft a Media Protection and Welfare Bill.
He said that process was halted due to the dissolution of PFUJ Body, however, the process would be reinitiated within a week as PFUJ body in place subsequent to its election being held on Saturday.
He assured the committee that the Draft Bill would be brought before the committee within stipulated timeline. He acknowledged that media workers working in conflict zones were vulnerable and in dire need of financial security and protection.
He informed about the measures initiative for the security of the media houses, trainings to deal with eventualities and the funds transferred to the CPNE for creation of an endowment fund.
He said that the Minister for Information,Broadcasting and
National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rashid had written a letter to all the four chief ministers to ensure security of the media persons.
He said that there were 64 media related laws out of which 17 were operational.
The committee was informed that the ministry had handed over Rs 50 million to Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors for endowment fund for the media persons. Moreover a summary had been moved for issuance of Rs 224 million for endowment fund.
The committee was also informed that Rs 2.5 million would be given as compensation for the families of the media persons martyred at the Quetta hospital blast, while Rs 500,000 would be given to injured media persons.
Mariyam Auragzeb said that there should be some timeline for approval and implementation of the bill for safety of the
Managing Director APP, Masood Malik said that Pakistan had been facing the scourge of terrorism since many years and reporting such tragic incidents was a dangerous job. He said that dozens of reporters and cameramen had lost their lives in the coverage of terrorist incidents.
He said in those circumstances it was necessary
that the media persons covering such incidents should be provided training and their orientation should be done like war journalists so that they could take precautionary measures during performance of thier duty.
Masood Malik said that a standard operating procedure
should be made mandatory for coverage of such events and the media houses should be responsible for training and provision of necessary safety equipment to the staff working in such areas.
He said that RIUJ had contacted some international
organizations which were ready to provide training to media persons working in danger zones.
Meanwhile, the committee also took notice of the reported ban on entry of media persons in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) during proceedings of disqualification references in the commission. The committee asked the Ministry of IB&NH to write a letter to the ECP and its reply should be submitted, and if the reply was not satisfactory, the ECP Secretary would be summoned.
Amer Dogar, MNA said that the ECP was violating articles 19 and 19 A of the Constitution.
The committee strongly condemned the Quetta blast and offered Fateha for the martyred persons. The committee strongly condemned the attacks on media houses in Karachi and called for provision of adequate security to them.
The meeting was informed that consultations on Right to
Information Bill had been completed.
The committee was informed that the funds allocated for
endowment fund would never be misused and concerns expressed by some journalists were unfounded.
The committee also heard the views of senior media
representatives of CPNE, APNS and media associations. They apprised the committee about the condition of working journalists specially performing in the conflict zones.
They said that large number of media workers had become victims of terrorism incidents in the country in yester years. They stressed the need for initiation of an insurance scheme for the media workers for providing financial security to their heirs in case of any eventuality.
The meeting was attended by MNAs, Malik Shakir Bashir Awan, Muhammad Tallal Chaudry, Waseem Akhtar Shaikh, Tahir Iqbal Chaudhry, Ms. Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, Ms. Parveen Masood Bhatti, Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb, Murad Saeed, Dr. Muhammad Azhar Khan Jadoon and Malik Muhammad Aamir Dogar.