History

Journalists are considered to be the most effective individuals who can better monitor, report and help protect human rights and promote democratic norms and protect the right of know of the people. In Pakistan, law enforcement officers (LEOs) massively violate instead of protecting human rights. They do not take care of any human rights instruments. They even do not know the UN code of conduct for law enforcement officials; UN basic principles on the use of force and firearms by LEOs; UN standard minimum rules for administration of juvenile justice (the Beijing rules); UN standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners; UN body of principles for the protection of all persons under any form of detention or imprisonment and Geneva conventions.

The Common Article 3 of the UN Declaration, which is not being duly taken care of by the LEOs, prohibits murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, hostage taking, all kinds of humiliating and degrading treatment and arbitrary or summary execution. Police in Pakistan usually commit violation of these provisions.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the basic international manifesto that guarantees inalienable and inviolable rights of all members of human family. States that accede to this Declaration and other legal instruments on Human Rights are legally bound to bring national legislation, policy and practice in line with the provisions set forth in these international instruments and to respect and ensure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens.

The democratic constitutions of many countries also ensure exercise of individual rights. The Constitution of Pakistan secures the well being of the people, irrespective of gender, caste, creed or race, by raising their standard of living. The Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights of citizens which include equality of status, equality of opportunity, equality before law, social, economic and political justice and freedom of thoughts, expression, belief, faith, workshop and association, subject to law and public morality.

However, these international and national human rights standards can only be put to practice if people everywhere know what democratic and basic rights they have; and how to claim and defend them. They should be well informed and vigilant so that they can insist on the effective measures to enjoy their basic rights. In attaining such rights, Media (electronic, print, on-line) can help people by exposing all sorts of human rights violations as public interest entity.

Though partly media is doing its job, yet it needs to be focused and sensitized on the rights of the people with a cause of “Protecting their Right to Know”. A group of sensitized journalists formed JOURNALISTS FOR DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS (JDHR), Pakistan, as a public interest media organization in 1998 to help develop a real democratic and responsive society. However, it was registered in early 2002 with the capital territory authorities in Islamabad. Through its public awareness and media sensitization programs, the JDHR strives for promotion of a culture free of religious intolerance, sectarian and ethnic divide, insecurities, injustices, economic deprivation, discrimination against women, children, minorities, farmers, consumers and other disadvantaged factions of society. The JDHR fights against illiteracy, child labor, environmental degradation, oppressive socio-cultural norms and lack of access to equal opportunities for all. The organization ensures prompt and genuine reporting on democracy and human rights issues by working journalists from across the country.