Keeping journalists safe makes democracy stronger
PESHAWAR, October 22, 2010: A joint declaration duly signed by leaders of political parties and media at a conference at the Peshawar Press Club called upon federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to make a stringent plan for safety and protection of journalists working in the conflict zones as keeping journalists safe makes democracy stronger.
The conference was jointly organised by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Intermedia in collaboration with International Media Support (IMS). The declaration was duly signed by the leaders of all political parties, including senior minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour, secretary information government of KPK Haneef Khan Orakzai, representatives of civil society, lawyers, human rights activists, parliamentary leaders in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Assembly, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President Pervaiz Shaukat, PFUJ Vice President Jamshed Baghwan, PFUJ Secretary General Shamsul Islam Naz, APNEC Secretary General Najm-us-Saqib, President Peshawar Press Club Shamim Shahid, President Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) Syed Bukhar Shah and General Secretary (KhUJ) Aneela Shaheen.
The declaration says the federal and provincial governments should take appropriate measures on priority basis for safety of the mediapersons during professional assignments in the conflict areas and ensure that they are not attacked.
Condemning attacks on journalists while they perform professional assignments in the conflict zones, the declaration urged upon the governments and all other parties to the conflict 'to ensure that those who had committed crimes against journalists are investigated and brought to justice.
“We are of the view that it must be specified that media equipment and facilities are civilian rather than military installations and in this respect must not become targets of attacks or reprisals unless they are military objectives”, said the declaration.
“We also feel deeply concerned at the frequency of acts of violence, including deliberate attacks, in many parts of the world against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel, in armed conflicts, and condemn such attacks and call on all parties to curb such practices”.
The conference also endorsed the unanimously adopted Resolution 1738 of 2006 by the Security Council which called for acknowledgment of the war correspondents' right of being given the status of prisoners of war without any prejudice under the Third Geneva Convention, which stated that the journalists, media professionals and associated personnel engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered civilians, to be respected and protected as such.
“We urge upon the Media Houses of Pakistan to adopt measures on priority basis for safety of the mediapersons during professional assignments in the conflict areas”, the declaration concluded. -- INFN (Infochange News and Features Network)