President Alvi signs journalists protection bill into act

ISLAMABAD (Faisal Azfar Alvi): President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday signed the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill into act, and termed it historic legislation for the country.

Dr Alvi said people did not want that their mistakes to be exposed so they put pressure on the journalists.

The bill focused on protecting lives of journalists, saving them from harassment and torture and ensuring their welfare by giving facilities of life and health insurance.

The President stressed the need for developing a culture of tolerance for journalists because they were only doing reporting and disseminating information.

Addressing the signing ceremony Federal Minister for Information Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said his ministry stood behind the working journalists, and added that a section in Pakistan tried to give the impression that the press was not free here.

“If there is no free press in Pakistan, then there will be no free press anywhere in the world,” he added, “When it comes to press freedom, we compare ourselves not with the Third World and the Muslim World but with the First World.”

Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said since there was no defamation law in Pakistan, so there was more freedom of the press than even in the first world.

The bill has been prepared by the Ministry of Human Rights and the minister Dr Shirin Mazari, in her remarks said the new law was progressive in nature and gave insurance of life and health to the journalists and media professionals.

Meanwhile, global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the inclusion of “an extremely vague section” in a law on protecting journalists that was passed by the parliament earlier this month.

The RSF in a statement said that Section 6 of the law neutralises virtually all the protection that it was supposed to provide.

“This section prohibits all journalists and media professionals from spreading ‘false information’ and producing material that ‘advocates hatred’ or constitutes ‘incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence’ – without clearly defining what any of these terms means,” RSF said in the statement.

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