Families of journalists who are killed or disabled because of their work often face financial ruin and destitution, because neither the employers provide insurance or other long term support. Since 2002, PPF has recorded at least 76 killings of journalists and media professionals in connection with their work including 29 in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Because of financial destitution caused after the death of the journalist, who is often the bread earner, the family has no option but to compromise with the killers by accepting blood money. In such cases the killers of journalists go free.
Abubakar Siddique, reporter of Geo News said that his father, Sadiq Bacha who was associated with Aaj news died on August 14, 2009 during cross firing while solving the private matter of two parties.
‘’After my father’s death, me and my sisters were very young and we requested the government to provide us with insurance, but they did not provide any adequate support and the organization where my father was working also did not support us”, Siddique said.
Amad Khan, son of late journalist Muhammad Shafi, who was a reporter of 24 News and the president of Mardan Press Club said that after the death of his father, the government provided them with compensatory amount, but no long-term insurance was offered which affected their education.
According to the section 9 (1) of Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act 2021’s part III “TRAINING AND INSURANCE”, “The provision of adequate training and guarantee of insurance will be governed in accordance with this provision, under the ”journalist welfare scheme’ ‘Compliance with the requirements of the scheme, established pursuant to subsection (1) of section (9) of this act, shall be the responsibility of each media owner.
The journalist welfare scheme requires each media owner to produce a comprehensive, written safety policy and protocols for journalists and media professionals.
According to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Journalist Welfare Endowment Fund Act 2019,
the government shall provide compensation and treatment expenses to a journalist who has got injured in line of duty or accident, financial assistance for medical treatment in the prescribed manner, financial assistance for expenses incurred upon marriages of a son or daughter of deserving journalist in the prescribed manner, and monthly stipend for deserving veteran journalist of the age of sixty and above, funeral charges in case of death of a journalist or their family member.
This year on February 15, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Cabinet approved the journalist’s welfare fund rules and made it more clear. Chief Minister Mahmood Khan approved to provide financial assistance of Rs1 million to families of journalists who were killed in terrorist incident and Rs200,000 for journalist who is completely disabled for any reason.
According to the rules, a journalist who has reached the age of 60 years and remained associated with journalism for 30 years will be given a stipend of Rs10,000 per month. In addition, a journalist who is fired from a newspaper or TV and remains unemployed for three months will be paid Rs10,000 once a month for a period of 2 months. In addition, in case of death of a journalist or a member of his family, Rs50,000 will be paid as funeral expenses.
According to Muhammad Ali Saif, special assistant to the Chief Minister for Information and Public Relations, there are two packages available for insurance of journalists. The first package provided by the KP government is a Shahuda package, which is worth Rs.1 million, and the second is a funeral charge, which is worth Rs. 50000 and is given to either the family of a deceased journalist or to the journalist themselves in the event that they pass away.
For the information about journalists who were killed between January 2021 and August 2022 and the amount of money given to their families as well as to injured journalists during the same period, a Right to Information (RTI) request was sent to KP’s information department on November 22, 2022 and the reminder was also given by November 24, 2022 during the research. But, they did not respond to the request.
The families of journalists require the insurance system since there is no source of assistance for their children after their deaths, and notably their children’s schooling suffers.