Bill for journalists' protection being prepared: Pakistan minister

Indo Asian News Service

Islamabad, March 18 (IANS) The Pakistani government is preparing a bill for the protection and welfare of journalists in the country, a top minister announced.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb made the remarks on Friday while addressing a delegation from the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists here.

"Democracy and media freedom go hand-in-hand and the independent media not only performs the functions of informing public but also empowers all members of the society by enhancing and nurturing democratic values," Dawn news quoted the minister as saying.

She added it is a "top priority of the democratic government", adding that a draft of the bill, titled Journalist Welfare and Protection Bill-2017, has been sent to various press clubs and media outlets seeking recommendations for improvement.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent organisation working to promote press freedom worldwide, in its special report launched in December 2016, had stated that no journalist was murdered in Pakistan "in retaliation for their work" in 2016 - a first since 2001.

The organisation classifies murder as "the targeted killing of a journalist, whether premeditated or spontaneous, in direct relation to the journalist's work."

However, many Pakistani journalists have resorted to self-censorship or have abandoned the profession altogether to avoid "grave risks", CPJ added.