Declaration on safety of journalists signed
* UNESCO director says freedom of expression is collective right, which empowers populations through facilitating dialogue, participation and democracy
ISLAMABAD: The United Nations in Pakistan, members of parliament, the Human Rights Commission, media workers, journalists and press clubs signed “Declaration on Safety of Journalists” on Monday demanding collective and coordinated action from all stakeholders to stop killing and harassment of journalists.
The declaration was adopted and signed as an outcome of national consultative meeting organised to provide Pakistan’s specific inputs to the United Nations implementation strategy of the Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
This is an initiative for which United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is the convening agency, to work in collaboration with other United Nations agencies, including United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNODC and UNWOMEN.
The declaration bears significance as it has been signed ahead of the United Nations 2nd Inter-Agency meeting, which will be held on November 22-23 in Vienna, Austria this year.
Dr Kozue Kay Nagata, director UNESCO Islamabad, in her opening remarks highlighted the importance of the declaration and said, “The safety of journalists and struggle against impunity for their killers are essential to preserve the fundamental right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
She also said, “Freedom of expression is an individual right, for which no one should be killed, but it is also a collective right, which empowers populations through facilitating dialogue, participation and democracy.”
Timo Pakkala, United Nations resident coordinator in Pakistan, emphasised on the strategic importance of adoption of UN system, plan of action and strategies aimed at coping with the alarming situation in respect of killing of journalists.
Senator Haider Abbas Rizvi, Member National Assembly’s Special Committee to ‘Investigate the Issue of Threats to Journalists and Media Personnel’, in his address urged for consolidated efforts. He urged to take responsibility and regulatory mechanisms also by media owners and journalists themselves. “By signing this declaration, we are bound to show commitment as a whole, and not in fragments,” he said.
The participants worked in different groups, along with the drafting committee nominated by the participants. The declaration proposes various interventions including enacting policy and legal framework, enabling civil society as accountability and watchdogs, and equipping media workers with capacity to practice their duties, to protect them against attacks and to combat impunity, in the interest of freedom and democracy.
This meeting provided a rare window of opportunity for global action ahead of the UN meeting, which will focus on practical ways to implement the UN system wide Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists at country, regional and local level.
In Pakistan, the Implementation Strategies to be developed at the Vienna meeting will mainstream into one-UN Operational Plan II, from 2013- 2017. app