ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution on the World Press Freedom Day, expressing its resolve that the fundamental right of freedom of speech enshrined in the Constitution under Article 19, which is the foundation of freedom of the press, would be upheld.

The resolution, moved by Dr Mehreen Razzaq Bhutto and signed by five other MNAs, asked the government to protect the freedom of the press from censorship and violence and promote its full realisation in accordance with its international human rights obligations.

It said that press freedom was essential for the functioning of democratic societies and it was vital for protection of other human rights. Recognising the critical role of journalists and media professionals in providing accurate, timely and impartial information to the public, the resolution also stressed the need to protect them from violence, intimidation, and harassment.

MNAs said they recognised the critical role of journalists and media professionals in providing accurate, timely and impartial information to the public, and the need to protect them from violence, intimidation and harassment.

Govt urged to protect freedom of press from censorship and violence

“Affirming the obligation of the government to safeguard and uphold press freedom against any form of censorship, undue interference, or retribution, this House resolves to take effective measures to ensure the safety, security, and independence of journalists, to strengthen the legal and institutional framework for the protection of press freedom, and to promote a pluralistic, diverse, and vibrant media environment in Pakistan, in compliance with its International Human Rights obligations and commitments,” it said.

Earlier in the day, a consultation was organised highlighting the global theme of the World Press Freedom Day 2023.

The speakers at the consultation stressed the need for recognition of media as the fundamental right and the significance of its freedom and media ethics.

The inaugural panel discussion highlighted the importance of safeguarding press freedom and promoting media diversity.

Speaking on the occasion, Unesco Director and Representative Youssef Filali-Meknassi highlighted Unesco’s role in leading the debate to ensure that media freedom remained intact despite growing challenges.

The consultation was organised, in collaboration with European Union delegation, embassies of Netherlands and Sweden, High Commission of Canada and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

During the panel discussion titled “Lessons learned from media development indicators and ensuring sustainability”, senior representatives of media resolved to improve the media sector especially in dealing with generating revenues, countering disinformation and online hate speech to restore the credibility of information and quality of reporting.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2023

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