Journalists’ protection: Sindh takes lead

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SINDH has become the first province to have passed Journalists Protection Bill.

The bill passed by Sindh Assembly on Friday provides an institutional mechanism to help journalists to discharge their duties without any threat or compulsion
There is no denying that the bill is comprehensive one as it contains the provision to punish the lawless elements harassing the media persons and threatening their lives.

A Commission will also be established which will receive complaints from the journalists against the incidents of harassment, threats against their lives and intimidation whilst performing their duties.

The law also calls for preferential adjudication of cases in courts related to attacks on the lives of journalists.

Sindh government deserves appreciation for coming up with this most important legislation after consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

But the real test will be its implementation. In our countries laws are very easily framed but their enforcement has always remained an issue.

A strong and independent media is essential to good governance and social progress.

The matter of concern is that our journalists are faced with the whole lot of threats and this is also bringing a bad name to the country.

According to a widely respected media watchdog, the Freedom Network, Sindh is three times riskier region for journalists than any other province and the Capital Territory.

Especially, in interior Sindh journalists largely feel threatened while covering violent clashes between tribes, particularly on issues relating to honour killing.

Also feudal mindset still largely exists in the interior and that is why they create lot of problems for working journalists.

In this backdrop, the Sindh government has taken a step in the right direction and it must be ensured that the legislation also serves its objective.

There should not be any delay in the constitution of the Commission to put a stop to the threats faced by the journalists.

An upright and honest person should be made its chairman after due consultations with the journalists’ bodies.

The federal government had also recently introduced a bill in the National Assembly for the protection of journalists. It should also be passed immediately without any politics on it.