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Parliamentarians Sign Resolution to uphold Freedom of Expression and form Working Groups to achieve SDG 16.10 in Pakistan

UNESCO in its efforts to strengthen Freedom of Expression and Safety of journalists engaged parliamentarians and duty bearers from relevant departments to make concerted efforts on 'ensuring public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements'. With the support of United Kingdom's Magna Carta Fund, a series of consultation were held to form federal and provincial working groups on SDG16.10 in Pakistan.

In December 2019, parliamentarians representing different political parties signed a resolution to uphold the Freedom of Expression as mentioned in Article 19 of The Constitution of Pakistan. The Resolution stresses upon federal and provincial governments to increase efforts to ensure timely completion of investigations and trials of cases of crimes against journalists. Through this resolution, policy legislators have shown commitment to draft new laws and suggest amendments in existing laws to incorporate safety and security of journalists.

Furthermore, the Resolution calls for progress to be monitored in accordance with the SDG framework adopted by Pakistan. The resolution has also stressed on the need to establish a data reporting mechanism on SDG 16.10. The establishment of reporting mechanism also aligns with the recommendations of National Economic Council (NEC) of Pakistan. Due to the overarching goal of SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Intuitions, the NEC has also identified SDG 16.10 as priority target under National development framework.

The resolution was signed against the backdrop of a first ever step towards formulating a coordination mechanism for reporting on SDG 16.10.1 in Pakistan. UNESCO, in collaboration with the Parliamentary Task Force on SDGs and Parliamentarians Commission for Human Rights (PCHR), brought together relevant stakeholders to identify avenues that can support Pakistan to initiate SDG 16.10.1 reporting in the coming years.

The project was implemented with the support of the United Kingdom Magna Carta Fund. A series of consultations with relevant stakeholders and capacity building workshops for duty bearers were organized. More than 200 stakeholders from government, civil society and media took part in the activities at federal and provincial level. The project focused on a highly specialized area that supports and compliments the overall framework of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country. Pakistan's incorporation of SDGs in national development agenda helped in garnering support of key government partners including parliamentarians and government officials.

These engagements further resulted in formation of high level Working Groups on reporting of SDG 16.10.1, with parliamentary oversight. The Working Groups will be developing strategic action plans focusing on policy making on safety of journalists, drafting a framework for government departments/ministries for reporting on the indicator 16.10.1 and addressing information collection issues at various administrative levels.

Read More at: Freedom of expression under fire
For more information, please contact: h.swati@unesco.org
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