IFJ Backs Pakistani Journalists in Rejecting Terms for Murder Inquiry

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) supports the Pakistan Federal Union of

Journalists (PFUJ) in rejecting of the Pakistan Government’s terms for

appointing a judicial commission to investigate the abduction and murder in

late May of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad.

 

The Government announced on June 14

that it would appoint the Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court, Agha Mohammad

Rafique, to head the commission.

 

However, the PFUJ insisted the

inquiry must be led by a fully independent Supreme Court justice.

 

Appointments to the Supreme Court

are made by the President on the recommendation of the court’s Chief Justice,

and are permanent appointments. Justices of the Federal Shariat Court are directly

appointed by the Government on an ad hoc basis for a limited tenure of three

years.

 

The PFUJ had demanded the Government

set up a commission headed by a Supreme Court judge by June 10. The demand was

supported by the IFJ and other organisations around the world.

 

“The inquiry into Shahzad’s murder

must be as independent and transparent as possible, and recognised as such by

the wider population. It is therefore necessary that the inquiry be headed by a

Supreme Court justice,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

The PFUJ, an IFJ affiliate, said journalists

would proceed with a 24-hour sit-in outside the Federal Parliament from 3pm on

June 15, and would boycott national and provincial assemblies for two days. Similar

protests will be held at provincial assemblies in Quetta,

Peshawar, Lahore

and Karachi.

 

PFUJ president Pervaiz Shaukat told

a press conference on June 14 that the Government was not paying heed to the

demands of journalists for full investigations to bring killers of journalists

to justice and to end the culture of impunity for the murders of media

personnel across all provinces of Pakistan.

 

PFUJ secretary-general Amin Yousuf

said journalists would only accept a judicial commission headed by a Supreme

Court judge.

 

Journalists in Pakistan have voiced outrage since the body of

Shahzad was found about 150km southeast of Islamabad on May 31. Shahzad disappeared in Islamabad on May 29, two

days after he published on Asia Times

Online an investigative report into alleged links between Al-Qaeda and

Pakistani naval officials.

 

At least four more Pakistani journalists

have been reported killed in connection to their work during 2011.

 

-     Asfandyar Khan, of the

daily Akhbar-i-Khyber, died in a bomb

blast, Peshawar,

June 11.

 

-     Nasrullah Afridi, of

Pakistan Television (PTV) and the Urdu daily Mashriq, murdered in targeted car-bomb blast, Peshawar, May 10.

 

-     Wali Khan Babar, of GEO

TV, murdered by unknown gunmen, Karachi,

January 13.

 

-     Ilyas Nazar, of the

Baloch-language Darwanth, found dead

in Pidarak, Balochistan, January 5, after abduction on December 28.

 

Following the June 11 twin-blast in Peshawar, trainee reporter

Shafiullah Khan, of The News, is

reported to be in a critical condition in hospital, suffering burns to 70 per

cent of his body.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +61 2 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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