Pakistan Press Foundation (ppf) Report on Murder of Pakistani Journalists From January 2002 to November 2011 Released on November 23: International Day to End Impunity for Violence against Journalists

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Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
Report on Murder of Pakistani Journalists

From January 2002 to November 2011
Released on November 23: International Day to End Impunity for Violence against Journalists

At least 42 journalists have been killed in the line of duty in Pakistan in last ten years and 29 of them were deliberately targeted and murdered because of their work. In 2011 alone, seven journalists were killed in the country. For every journalist who has been deliberately targeted and murdered, there are many others who have been injured, threatened and coerced into silence.

Pakistani journalists are killed, unjustly detained, abducted, beaten and threatened by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, militants, tribal and feudal lords, as well as, some political parties that claim to promote democracy and the rule of law. Sadly, the perpetrators of violence against journalists and media workers enjoy almost absolute impunity in Pakistan.
Of the 42 journalists killed in the line of duty during these 10 years, 11 were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, nine from Federally Administrated Tribal Agencies (FATA), eight each from Balochistan and Sindh, four from Punjab and two from the federal capital, Islamabad.
Of the 29 journalists murdered since the year 2002 because of their work, nine were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, six from Balochistan, five from FATA, six from Sindh, two from Punjab and one from Islamabad. Seventeen of them were shot; six targeted in suicide attacks, one killed in a bomb blast, while eight abducted before murder.
While formal criminal complaints (First Information Reports) were lodged, the murders of media workers were not seriously investigated or prosecuted. Over the last ten years, the murder of Daniel Pearl, reporter for the US-based Wall Street Journal, was the lone case of murder of journalist in Pakistan where suspects were prosecuted and convicted. This is why Pakistan is among the list of shame prepared by the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists of those countries that do not investigate and prosecute murders of journalists.
Because of the Afghanistan war and the so called war on terror, areas bordering Afghanistan - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and FATA – are the most dangerous areas for journalists.
Journalists in FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan work under extremely stressful conditions with pressure being wielded by security agencies, militant groups, district administration and tribal leaders. In many instances security agencies or militant organisations require journalists to get ‘clearance’ from them before releasing their new reports. Journalists from Balochistan, in particular, face violence and threats from security and intelligence agencies, as well as, ethnic, sectarian and separatist groups.
Pakistani journalists are often caught between competing power centers. For example recently the Balochistan High Court directed journalists not to report news of banned organizations; while these banned organizations exert pressure on local media to give them ‘proper’ coverage.
The alarming increase in violence and threats has forced many journalists to migrate from these danger zones. According to some estimates, one-third of FATA journalists has already moved to other areas or gave up the profession.
Pressure and intimidation has forced the journalists to adopt a self-censorship, particularly in the conflict areas. Because of this self-censorship, the reports emanating from the conflict areas about military action by Pakistani law enforcement agencies, drone attacks by the US forces or attacks by militants are based on press releases and not on observations by independent journalists. Thus, not only human dimensions or horrors of the war being fought in Pakistan are absent from media, but reports that are published or broadcast also lack credibility. This has hindered the development of consensus on the path Pakistan should take to steer the country out of the crisis facing it for last three decades.
Free media is essential to democracy in Pakistan as it promotes transparency and accountability, a prerequisite of sustained economic uplift. The impunity enjoyed by those who attack journalists is seriously hampering press freedom in Pakistan and all stakeholders, including media organisations, the government and civil society should join hands to devise some mechanisms for ensuring safety of working journalists.
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) recommends the following steps to control the alarming rise in violence against media, and to end impunity for those who attack journalists and media workers:

  1. Criminal cases should be registered, investigated and prosecuted against the perpetrators of violence against media.

  1. An independent commission comprising professional media organisations, CSOs, press freedom and human rights organisations and professional bodies of lawyers should be established for monitoring criminal investigations and legal follow-up of cases of violence and intimidation of journalists.

  1. Local, national and international print, electronic and online media should ensure long-term follow up of cases of assault on media organisations and workers

  1. Journalists should be provided with safety and first aid trainings and guidance on how to report in hostile environment. Journalists working in conflict areas should also be provided with guidance in recognizing and dealing with stress and post-traumatic stress.

  1. Safety equipments including bulletproof jackets and medical kits should be given to journalists covering the conflicts.

  1. Threats and attacks can be reduced to some extent by adopting a professional approach and impartial and unbiased reporting. Journalists, especially those in rural areas, should be imparted trainings on writing skills, language proficiency, editing and interviewing techniques to enhance their capabilities.

  1. Employers should provide journalists life and medical insurance and also compensation in case of death or injury related to their work. As Pakistani journalists are victims of circumstances that are both local and global in nature, the government should also compensate to the families of journalists, killed in the line of duty.

  1. Proper medical treatment, including treatment abroad, should be provided to media workers who have been subjected to violence.

  1. In addition to compensation by employers and government, funds should be set up for families of journalists who had been murdered or injured. These funds could be operated by the immediate families of the victimized journalists.

  1. There is need to for media organisations to develop ‘operating procedures’ with law enforcement agencies that will allow journalists to cover the conflict situations with greater safety.

  1. Arrangements should be made in all major cities to provide refuge and safe houses for the journalists who are forced to leave their homes so that they can live and work in safer cities.

  1. Media organisations should interact with all stakeholders including government departments, political parties and groups and security agencies to develop strategies that promote safety of journalists and other media workers.

  1. Employers should give journalists facing threats the option of transferring them to safer cities for extended periods of time. The remunerations during these periods should be based on the actual living expenses in these cities, which are generally higher than rural areas.

  1. At times, insensitive and misinformed editors push their reporters and photojournalists into the situations where they have to put their life and well-being at risk for getting the stories. There is a need to create awareness and sensitizing the owners of the media organizations, as well as, those who are working on desk to realize the ground realities and threats being faced by the journalists working in fields especially in conflict areas.

  1. Some international media organisations do provide proper safety trainings and equipment to their correspondents; however, journalists working for international media organisations as stringers or on freelance basis in remote areas of FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan do not receive adequate training or support. As reporting for international media carries greater risk for these stringers, these organisations should provide security training and support, as well as, life and medical insurance for their stringers and freelancers working in conflict area

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