Sub-committee Formed To Focus On Freedom Of Expression As Part Of SDGs Framework
Convener of the Parliamentary Task Force on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Riaz Fatyana on Friday formed a special sub-committee to focus on freedom of expression and protection of journalists as part of the SDGs framework
Chairing the consultation here on establishing Integrated Reporting and Monitoring Mechanism on SDGs, Fatyana said the the sub-committee in collaboration with the government institutions, civil society, journalists, human rights defenders and all other stakeholders would work on the reform process to protect the journalist community and provide them an enabling environment for freedom of expression in Pakistan.
It was decided that the sub-committee would work to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements as defined under the SDGs framework target 16.10.
The consultation was organized by the parliamentary task force in collaboration with the Peace and Justice Network, a national civil society network, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Parliamentary Commission for Human Rights.
In addition to members of Parliamentary Task Force on SGGs, representatives of Parliamentary Reporters Associations, Pakistan Telecom Authority, Ministry of Interior, Federal Investigating Agency, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, National Police Bureau, Police Department, Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Planning, National Commission on Human Rights, and other experts shared ways to strengthening coordination and reporting mechanism to promote freedom of expression, and protect journalists and human rights defenders in Pakistan.
The task force also launched a national initiative in order to integrate work of national and provincial parliamentary SDGs task forces on freedom of expression and right to access to information. Freedom of expression - an indispensable element has been recognized in the 2030 Development Agenda "Sustainable Development Goals" (SDGs).
SDGs recognize that access to information and fundamental freedoms are an integral part of the broader agenda. SDG Target 16.10 urges UN member states to "ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements".
The field assessment on SDG 16.10 based on nationwide interventions conducted by Peace & Justice Network in collaboration with Parliamentarians Commission for Human Rights, shows that there is a great need of capacity building of public institutions and policy makers to enhance effective implementation of the right of access to information and freedom of expression in order to enhance legal and institutional frameworks related to the protection and promotion of freedom of expression online/off-line, right of access to information and safety of journalists, in accordance with international standards (and the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity) and through integrating a gender sensitive approach.
Furthermore, the findings reiterated the need to enact legislation addressing the safety of journalists and issue of impunity along with delegating responsibility to law enforcement agencies in protecting and preventing threats against journalists at all tiers. Further stressing the need for Pakistan to initiate steps for including indicator SDG16.10.1 in the next Voluntary National Review (VNR) reporting.