PESHAWAR: Speakers in a workshop here on Thursday asked media to play a proactive role as human rights defenders and evolve a self-regulatory code of conduct while dealing with the rights issues.

They hailed the formulation of the provincial human rights policy and called for its effective implementation.

The daylong media orientation workshop on the KP Human Rights Policy was jointly organised by the United Nations Development Programme and provincial Directorate of Human Rights.

The event was attended by senior journalists, who highlighted the challenges facing the media and the role it could play for the protection and promotion of human rights.

Speakers at workshop also call for effective enforcement of rights policy

They said the media persons should avoid printing, publishing or airing any material which incites discrimination on ground of religion, race, ethnicity, caste, sect, gender, disability, illness or age.

The journalists said the media should respect the privacy of individuals and should avoid intrusion into private, family life and home of an individual.

UNDP policy development officer Ejaz Mustapha said the human rights policy was developed by the KP government with technical assistance from UNDP and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

He said the policy had focused on international human rights treaties, and enactment of national and provincial laws for implementation of those treaties.

Mr Mustapha said for the implementation of the international treaties including UN conventions and covenants, a treaty implementation cell was set up on national level, whereas in the province the responsibility rested with the law department.

Human rights activist Rukhshanda Naz said the policy had eight themes including civil and political rights, women, children, transgender persons, minorities, senior citizens, persons with disabilities and human rights defenders.

She said while journalists had been playing the role of human rights defenders, they, too, confronted different challenges, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its tribal areas.

The rights activist said the government should enact the law for checking domestic violence at the earliest.

Khyber Union of Journalists president Saiful Islam Saifi said media persons had been facing security issues both related to their jobs as well as working atmosphere.

He said media had been passing through a critical phase as several media houses had laid off workers due to financial crisis, while both state and non-state actors had been pressuring media persons seeking coverage of their choice.

Senior journalist Shamim Shahid said media persons mostly got training in the field as their respective institutions didn’t arrange any training courses for them.

He said media persons should be provided with training on human rights-related laws and issues so that they could create public awareness.

Journalists Ibrahim Shinwari, Fareedullah Khan, Shams Mohmand, Zulfiqar Ali Shah and Ziaul Haq called for close coordination among stakeholders for the protection and promotion of human rights.

Director of the human rights directorate Zafar Ali said his organisation’s primary responsibility was to monitor the human rights situation in the province and had the mandate to take action over rights violations.

He said the directorate was striving to take initiatives for the harmonisation of legislation, regulation and practices with international human rights standards and national laws.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2018

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