Pakistani media community to set guidelines, protocols for journalists' safety

Guidelines and protocol 'will envisage self-regulation charter having three main safety mechanisms', including 'prevention, protection and prosecution', CPNE said

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Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE)/Handout via

KARACHI: Pakistan's media fraternity has decided to set up national protocols and guidelines for the safety of the media personnel, the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) announced in a press release issued Thursday, terming it "a milestone for safety of media houses and media practitioners".

The guidelines and protocol "will envisage self-regulation charter having three main safety mechanisms defined as global standards i.e. prevention, protection and prosecution" the CPNE added, following a multi-stakeholder meeting in collaboration with the Freedom Network (FN) at the CPNE Secretariat.

Among those in attendance were CPNE Secretary-General Dr Jabbar Khattak, FN Executive Director Iqbal Khattak, Geo News managing director and member of the Association of Digital News Editors & Directors, Azhar Abbas, and International Media Support's (IMS) Islamabad representative, Adnan Rehmat.

Karachi Press Club (KPC) President Imtiaz Khan Faran, CPNE Media Safety Committee Head Aamer Mehmood, senior editor Maqsood Yousufi, and senior media practitioner Sheherbano were also present.

In this regard, Khattak, the FN's executive director, said journalists' lives could easily be made safer if there was proper insight about media safety. Media professionals with little or no apprehension about possible dangers or threats may confront grave consequences, he added.

“Response from Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani at our last day event was very encouraging beside active support from CPNE,” Khattak noted.

"We are very hopeful that Sindh will be the first province to lead in legislations regarding media safety. Threat to media cannot be fully eliminated in any part of world but it can be minimized by taking appropriate measures.

Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE)/Handout via

"Self-regulations for media safety are desperately needed in Pakistan for which Freedom Network and CPNE are striving,” he added.

Rehmat, the IMS representative, stated during his presentation that media outlets and media practitioners were "facing multi-dimensional threats which warrant a compact national response including at least annual monitoring of such cases", as per the press statement.

“In Pakistan, 133 media practitioners have been killed in last 19 years, however we were successful to save lives of 92 journalists by taking various measures including relocating them. This year 83 journalists are murdered in the world until this week," he added.

With regard to the proposed resolutions, Rehmat said the self-regulation charter's purpose was to keep Pakistan's entire media — including outlets, editors, journalists, and other practitioners — safe through standardised self-regulated safety policies.

The CPNE and other media associations must campaign for enabling national environment for media safety, he underlined, adding that the IMS would help in formulating the charter and related strategy and provide relevant tools and methodology.

"Global standard of media safety mechanism is in 3Ps of safety i.e. prevention, protection and prosecution and for which media practitioners will have to fight a long battle. CPNE as a leading partner should engage more media associations for facilitation and to implement mechanism,” he added.

Abbas, the Geo News MD, underscored that no one disagreed on the issues of media safety and freedom of speech but that every move beneficial to the media community must be supported.

"It is very important to include operational and practical issues in such charter for safety so all forms of media outlets might meet their specific needs," he added, as per the statement.

Further, CPNE Secretary-General Dr Jabbar Khattak said the proposed charter's scope should be broad-based to make it highly effective. “Our arms must be opened for all media associations for the sake of result oriented efforts," he said.

Mehmood, the head of the CPNE's media safety committee, noted that with the help of the group's committee"we have extended offer to media houses for security audit on no-cost basis".