A World Press Freedom Day seminar hosted by Rural Media Networks Pakistan in collaboration with the National Press Union and Daily Nawa-I-AhmedpurSharia has issued a set of recommendations related to safety of journalists.
Chaired by President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar, the seminar hear from keynote speaker Professor Doctor Sajjad Paracha of Media Studies Department Islamia University Bahawalpur on the issue of media freedom and responsibility.
The President of RMNP also presented the annual press freedom report, noting that eight journalists and four media workers have been killed in the line of duty since Nawaz Sharif came into power last year.
At the conclusion of the event, the RMNP seminar unanimously adopted and issued the following recommendations:
1. The government should take immediate steps to ensure safety of journalists and security of media houses; should not compromise on freedom of expression and media while talking with any group at the name of peace as this issue is directly related with the survival of our country; should immediately arrest the criminals behind attacks on media persons
2. The newspapers and private TV channel owners must be taken onboard for security and safety of journalists and for this purpose the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and other media associations must be taken into confidence
3. Special workshops on safety and security for journalists working in rural areas should be planned in small towns and international media organizations should focus on such areas which are more vulnerable
4. National and regional newspapers and TV channels should form unity. If a reporter or correspondent of one channel is attacked or killed, other channels should mention his and his organization’s name while broadcasting the news and avoid indulging in a blame game
5. Militant, extremist organizations and political parties should stop harassing media for the coverage of their news
6. International journalists’ organizations should be requested to write letters to the media houses to provide security to their staffers working in sensitive areas
7. Coordination should be improved between news room and field teams as well as with correspondents and contributors on safety and security issues, and anchors should avoid pressing reporters for details which may put their lives in danger
8. A legal aid mechanism should be evolved and safety fund created for the families of journalists killed in terrorist attacks
9. A special public prosecutor should be appointed to exclusively take up and pursue cases of attacks on media and media workers to promote a culture of justice and accountability
10. All media houses must formulate standard operating procedures (SOPs) for journalists
11. An Eminent Group of Journalists should be set up to serve as mediation platform to forge consensus between media and the government authorities on the issue of safety
12. Media houses should help their staffers to change work place if necessary for their security
13. The owners of newspapers and TV channels should provide complete insurance cover to their correspondents working in sensitive areas
14. A dependable mechanism must be evolved to identify the dangers and collect the information in rural areas to alert the journalists. RMNP has stressed again and again on this point
Photo: President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar while presenting annual press freedom report
Photo courtesy of RMNP