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Pakistan

Sindh Assembly passes Journalists Protection Bill 2021

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Friday legislated a law to guard journalists and media workers'...
29 May, 2021

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Friday legislated a law to guard journalists and media workers' professionalism and protect their news sources legally.

"The Sindh Protection of Journalists and Other Media Practitioners Bill 2021" exempts newsmen from revealing their sources of reports and covers their professionalism against all social, political and other influences and threats.

The law, which received an overwhelming support from either side of the house, makes all kinds of obstructions and harassments in the way of journalists and other media practitioners duties a crime.

A commission in this regard, which the law proposes, will be established to guard the journalists' professionalism. Life and other threats to journalists will be liable to punishment.

Crimes committed against journalists will be pursued on a priority. Journalists and media workers will now be able to file complaints to the proposed commission against all threats and obstructions to their jobs.

MQM's Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan placed an amendment to the bill to include families of the newsmen and other media workers in a medical cover.

However, Sindh Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mukesh Kumar Chawla assured the amendment will be grafted to the law on some other occasion of legislation.

An amendment came from opposition's party legislator, PTI's Dr Seema Zia for an increase representation of women in the law. It was also rejected.

Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan also proposed another amendment during the legislation that the government should bear legal protection expenses since journalists and media workers are financially too weak to afford the bills of lawyers.

Mukesh this time however supported the proposition and said, "Since Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan raised the entire journalists' fraternity issue therefore I support it." The legislation saw a unanimous vote in the house.

Earlier Sindh Information Minister, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah tabled a report on the journalists and media workers protection bill that the standing committee on law and parliamentary affairs and human rights had evolved, seeking the house approval.

The house also adopted "The Abdul Majid Bhurghri Institute of Language Engineering Bill 2019".

"The Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (Amendment) Bill 2021" also found a unanimous approval from the lawmakers.

Giving a policy statement on the assembly floor, Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah called water distribution crisis an "economic issue", and ruling out it as political one.

"Twenty seven percent less water [to Sindh] means Rs27 billion of [agriculture produce] loss," he said and told the house that the Irsa supplied 33 percent more water to Punjab and 27 percent less to Sindh over the last Rabi season.

"We are the well wishers of Punjab but just want our due right," he said, while giving an historic details about the water issues. He sought unity on water issues in the assembly to advocate for the rights of Sindh unanimously.

PTI'S Bilal Ghaffar, MQM's Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan, GDA's Arif Mustafa Jatoi and the entire house assured the Chief Minister Sindh of a complete support and vowed to protect the province rights.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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