ISLAMABAD: After five years delay, the draft of the ‘Journalist Protection and Welfare Bill’ is likely to be finalised by November 20 and hopefully be approved by the cabinet this month, Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Marriyum Aurangzeb has said.
The minister announced this during her visits to media houses and briefings at various occasions. She said the draft of the bill is almost in its final stages and once completed will be shared with journalists for review and suggestions.
A bill for the protection of whom?
“Their views, advice and amendments will be incorporated as they are the one who are well aware of their rights and issues more than anyone,” she said.
“The aim of the bill is to provide security, protection against violation of their rights, facilities and enabling environment to journalists so that they could work more diligently, effectively and bravely,” said Aurangzeb.
The bill was introduced during the PPP government in 2011 by Professor Khurshid Ahmed, a central leader of Jamaat-i-Islami.
“The PPP government was not at all in favour of this bill and its proposals were termed irrelevant,” claimed Professor Khurshid while talking to The Express Tribune.
He believed that though the past government had made tall claims about freedom of speech, from inside it was not in favour of granting this right which is evident from the fact that the bill remained neglected for so long.
Ensuring security of media houses govt's priority
The state minister said the draft of the bill was being formulated while keeping in view best global practices to provide health insurance, fuel allowance among others.
“The draft has been made in comparison with the laws of three to four countries and international organisations of journalists,” she said.
“Currently, due to the absence of the law, the government cannot take action against any media outlet found violating the rights of its employees; however, once the bill is passed it will secure their rights fully,” said Aurangzeb.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2016.
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