Following a successful collaboration last year, Doha Centre for Media Freedom has recently concluded a series of workshops organised in conjunction with the Rural Media Network Pakistan aimed at improving safety and security conditions for journalists living in rural areas of the country.
The organisations united to organise a total of 12 workshops over the past year and a half, bringing together and assisting nearly 100 journalists who find themselves working in some of the most dangerous conditions in the world.
Earlier this month, the final installment in the series took place, heralding the conclusion of a successful partnership and a step towards providing more media workers with protection and helping to defend media freedom in Pakistan.
Throughout the series of workshops, it became apparent that journalists in rural Pakistan are extremely concerned with their security as a result of issues related to threats from politicians, feudal leaders and others. Many had also faced difficulties with police authorities, facing trumped up charges and being forced to pay fines and bribes encountered in the course of their work.
The workshops focused on covering sensitive topics, and the importance of adopting a balances approach when writing stories. The trainers explained that reporters must avoid sensationalising stories and stick to confirmed facts when filing stories.
Journalists were also taught about reporting in disaster situations and the trainers advised participants to steer clear of reporting hate speech and exacerbating religious conflicts.
Safety advice was also provided to help media workers identify possible traps and other dangerous situations in the field.
Between March 30-31, 18 journalists working in the Yazwan area of the Bahalwalpur district participated in the Safety of Journalists workshop, which was the first ever training session for journalists organised in the area.
The next two workshops were held in Khairpur and Tranda Muhammad Panah between April 13 and 14, and April 27 and 29 respectively.
Journalists from Khanqah Sharif, Liaquatpur and Khanbela then took place in workshops to wind up the second half of the DCMF and RMNP programme.
Throughout the course of the workshops, RMNP president Ehsan Ahmed Sehar outlined his concerns for members of the media in Pakistan, making a number of recommendations for the future.
He demanded that Pakistan’s Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry must take action to ensure that journalists no longer face false terrorism charges, such as those facing a number of daily newspapers at the moment.
He highlighted the significant dangers facing journalists throughout areas such as Balochistan, referring to the number of journalists to have lost their lives in the district and demanding an end to the impunity which continues to abound in Pakistan.
Sehar also mentioned the fact that Pakistan has been identified as one of the focus countries for the UN’s Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, a decision which was welcomed by all of the workshops’ participants.
The participants expressed their sincere gratitude to DCMF and RMNP for organising the workshops, highlighting the importance of continuous safety and security training for journalists in rural Pakistan.