An independent think-tank

Fair reporting can challenge rights violations in Pakistan

Objective and analytic reporting can enhance awareness of human rights and significantly challenge pervasive impunity for perpetrators of violations in Pakistan, participants of a media training learned here.

Journalists from all parts of Pakistan attended the two-day media training workshop, which was organised by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) in the federal capital.

The media training included sessions on mapping of human rights issues in Pakistan; key issues and considerations in reporting human rights; regional human rights outlook; legal perspective; as well as cases studies on the Rimsha Masih case and Rinkle Kumari case. Each session was followed by extensive discussion.

The chief guest H.E. Mr. Greg Giokas (Canadian High Commissioner) said , “Media has risen as a metaphorical fourth pillar of the state.  It has emerged as a powerful institution of civil society in providing information to its citizens.”

Riaz Fatiyana, head of the Human Rights Parliamentary Committee, said that after Pakistan’s ratification of key international human rights treaties, imple

mentation mechanisms were now being developed. He called for support of the news media to create sensitization in this respect.

Declan Walsh, the New York Times bureau chief for Pakistan, discussed an outsider’s view of human rights reporting in the country and the problems faced by foreign journalists in reporting such incidents in Pakistan.

The journalists learned about Pakistan’s international human rights commitments and the perspectives of human rights reporting and challenges faced by journalists in reporting human rights violations in various provinces and regions of the country.

The case studies analysed the role of the media in the coverage of the blasphemy charge of Rimsha Masih and the issue of allegedly forced conversion of Rinkle Kumari. Noted international law expert Ahmer Bilal Sufi identified conflict as a major cause of human rights violations and discussed the various levels of conflict in Pakistan and their impact on human rights.

Adnan Rehmat, Director Intermedia Pakistan, identified the right to life, freedom of expression and access to information as the three basic human rights and discussed the media’s role in ensuring these rights for the people.
PIPS Director Muhammad Amir Rana highlighted instances where the media had not set very high standards in terms of objective reporting of human rights violations and stressed the need to watch out against biases undermining objective reporting of human rights issues.

In his concluding remarks, the Canadian High Commissioner said  “We strongly believe that the effective functioning of a free and responsible media is a cornerstone of any democratic society and is essential to the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms.” He congratulated PIPS on successfully organizing the training.

The chairs and trainers for the various sessions of the training workshop included Dr. Khadim Hussain, Ahmer Bilal Sufi, Declan Walsh, Riaz Fatiyana, Muhammad Amir Rana, Mubashir Bukhari, Aurangzaib Khan, Adnan Rehmat, Shahzada Zulfiqar, Hassan Khan, Fakhar Kakakhel, Imdad Ali Soomro, Aoun Sahi, Umer Daraz Nangyana, Ammar Bin Yasir, Shagufta Hayat, Waqar Gillani and Najam U Din.