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‘RTI bill to be presented in next NA session’

Published Dec 01, 2016 06:14am

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Maryam Aurangzeb on Wednesday said that the Right to Information (RTI) bill will be presented during the next session of the National Assembly.

Addressing mediapersons at the National Press Club (NPC), Ms Aurangzeb claimed: “The RTI bill has been approved by the cabinet committee, but it could not be presented during the current session. However it will be placed before the National Assembly in the next session.”

Four key demands were placed before the state minister by former Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists -Afzal Butt group president Afzal Butt on behalf of the NPC and the journalist community at large. One of the demands is the finalisation of the Journalist Safety Bill. NPC office-bearers said that a mechanism to compensate families of deceased journalists and ensure the safety of employees of electronic media should also be devised and included in the bill.

Maryam Aurangzeb acknowledged that there had to be an institutionalised system to cater to the financial needs of the families of journalists who had lost their lives in the line of duty.

“We need to move beyond the tradition of getting all applications approved by the authorities in power because those living in other parts of the country do not have access to the prime minister,” the state minister said, adding that the draft of the Journalist Safety Bill would be forwarded to various press clubs to get their feedback.

She was informed that around 118 mediapersons had been killed in the country, but only three cases had been traced.

She was also asked about the implementation of the eighth wage board award and was told that the former information minister, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, had announced more than a year ago that the government was set to announce it.

Ms Aurangzeb said that the summary in this regard was with the prime minister.

She also assured the journalists that the chairman of Implementation Tribunal for Newspaper Employees would be appointed within a month.

The journalist community leaders also brought before the minister the establishment of the ninth and 10th wage boards, but she did not comment on it.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2016