The National Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Chaudhry Muhammad Shafique has announced the nomination of focal persons in all provincial and federal police departments to collect data on crimes against Journalists. Mr. Shafique was speaking at the closing ceremony of a workshop with duty bearers on promoting safety of journalists. He shared that official notifications had been issued in this regard. NCHR will also be initiating the process of establishing federal and provincial level working group on freedom of expression and safety of journalist.
On this occasion, National commissioner for Human Rights Member Mr. Shafique while acknowledging the importance of media said, "Pakistan journalists are facing immense pressure and they often risk their lives in line of performing their duties. Unfortunately Pakistan doesn't have any statistics available on the assassinations of journalists therefore it becomes very difficult to legislate in the absence of data adding that the NCHR is a statutory body and they are mandated to raise human rights issues at the global level". Chairperson National Commissioner for Human Rights (NCHR) Justice (R) Ali Nawaz Chohan highlighted the important role journalists are playing in Pakistan and called them 'the voice of people'. Ex-senator Mr. Farhatullah Babar, keynote speaker at the event said that Journalists are the frontline human rights defenders. They need special protection through law.
UNESCO Representative Ms. Vibeke Jensen welcomed the news and said, "I commend the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) Pakistan for emerging as a strong ally for promoting fundamental freedoms, and for bringing relevant duty bearers on board. I would like to congratulate the Commission (NCHR) on the nomination of focal persons in police which is a crucial step to strengthen institutional mechanisms for reporting".
Ms. Jensen appreciated the support of donors, for the series of workshops, which culminated in these developments and reinforced the role of duty bearers. The ambassador of Sweden to Pakistan H.E. Ingrid Johansson was also present at the event. She appreciated the efforts of government on behalf of the donors and expressed the hope that all stakeholders would play a role in making these measures a success and improve overall space for freedom of expression. H.E. also appreciated the progress made by NCHR by appointing police focal persons at provincial and federal level for recording and reporting framework crime against journalist and congratulated all the participates playing their role in process.
Under the UNESCO project so far workshops on Safety of Journalists have been organized with public institutions, policy makers and duty bearers in Peshawar (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Islamabad (Federal Capital), Lahore (Punjab) and Quetta (Balochistan) engaging 62 participants representing 45 institutions. These institutions include Police, Judicial Academy, Labour Department, Law Department, Ministry of Human Rights, National Commission of Human Rights, Information Commission, Ombudsman, Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Federal Investigation Agency, Bar Councils, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Planning Department, Prosecution Department, Associated Press Of Pakistan (APP), Ministry of Information, Ministry of Interior, General Directorate of Civil Defense (GDCD), National Database & Registration Authority, National Police Bureau (NPB), Press Information Department (PID), City Administration, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Prosecution Department and Journalist Unions and Members NCHR RTI Advocacy Forum Balochistan.
In order to conclude the national capacity develop initiative of public institutions, policy makers and duty bearers on freedom of expression and safety of journalist, NCHR in collaboration with PJN and UNESCO will be organizing final capacity building workshop on 30th April, 2019 in Karachi for Sindh Province.