ISLAMABAD: Amid the opposition uproar, the Senate on Friday passed the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill, 2021 aimed at authorizing the government to establish a commission for the protection of journalists and media professionals.
Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari moved the bill in the House. Under the bill, the independent commission will inquire into complaints against threats or acts of torture, killing, violent attacks, forced disappearance and arbitrary arrests. The reports of the commission would be laid before the parliament through the Ministry of Human Rights.
The bill would enable to actively investigate, prosecute and punish acts of violence and any threats to journalists providing protection of their lives.
According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons, the protection and promotion of the rights of journalists and media professionals is central to the safeguarding of the right to freedom of expression.
In facts, the International Federation of Journalists has emphasized, “ the work of a free, independent and impartial press constitutes one of the basic foundations of a democratic society”.
There is, therefore, an urgent need to ensure accountability for all forms of threats, coercion and violence against journalists and media professionals.
Meanwhile, the House also passed the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which provides for extension in tenure of Prosecutor General of NAB.
Minister of Law and Justice Farogh Naseem piloted the bill in the House.
Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill says, section 8 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 (XVII of 1999) provides that the President of Pakistan, in consultation with Chairman NAB, may appoint any person, who is qualified to be appointed as a judge of Supreme Court, as Prosecutor General Accountability for a term of three years.
To amend this provision, so that the appointment of Prosecutor General becomes less restrictive, the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 has been made and promulgated by the President under Article 89 (1) of the Constitution.
Later, Speaking on point of order, Senator Faisal Javed said the joint sitting of Parliament passed all those bills with majority votes for which the opposition was pressurizing the government and sought NRO in a bid to pass the said bills.
Later, the House was prorogued sine die. The Chairman read the prorogation order signed by the President.
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