GILGIT/PESHAWAR / BATKHELA: The World Press Freedom Day was commemorated in various parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan on Tuesday.
At these separate events, speakers discussed the right to information and cybercrime bills.
In Gilgit, it was decided that the right to information bill would be tabled in the G-B Assembly next week.
The announcement was made by G-B Parliamentary Secretary on Law Aurangzeb Khan at Gilgit Press Club.
“The bill would be tabled in the next session – that is what I’m working on,” Aurangzeb said. He is also the acting law minister of the region.
He said his government had limited powers to make laws on. The acting minister added so far 10 bills have been tabled in the assembly in the last 10 months of his government.
On the occasion, he also promised to settle issues pertaining to journalists in G-B.
Also present at the event, G-B Assembly Speaker Fida Naushad said he would back the government on laws pertaining to media and journalists of the region.
Against cybercrime bill
An event to celebrate the World Press Freedom Day was also held at a local hotel in Peshawar.
During the event, speakers flayed the federal government’s decision to pass the cybercrime bill. They said the law was a threat to the freedom of expression in the virtual space.
The event was organised by Blue Veins, an NGO, in collaboration with Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network, Tribal NGOs Consortium, MEN UNiTE and National Action Coordination Group.
The speakers urged the federal government to review the bill that was passed last month to curb crime that happens through technology.
On the occasion, Blue Veins Programme Coordinator Qamar Naseem said the passage of the bill would be a vague threat to the minorities and human rights defenders to express their view openly over the Internet.
“We always asked for a legislation to prevent cybercrimes, but the bill in its current form should be reviewed,” Naseem said.
He asked the government to form an independent body to review the clauses of the bill.
Also present at the event, FATA Human Rights Commission’s Zar Ali Khan said the main problem with the bill was the overarching powers given to the media regulatory authority and the lack of protection for journalists.
The day was also celebrated in Batkhela where journalists and locals gathered to speak about the importance of freedom of the press and journalists.
Every year May 3 is marked as World Press Freedom Day to celebrate the freedom of expression, evaluate the laws and principles related and to pay tribute to those journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2016.