IFJ Mission to Pakistan Calls for Media Freedom and Solidarity with Local Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today begins a three-day mission to Pakistan to support local journalists in their defence of free media in the country, in response to anti-media ordinances issued in Pakistan since the emergency decrees imposed on 3 November.

The mission involves a series of discussions in Islamabad and Lahore with journalists and their professional organizations, including the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an affiliate of the IFJ, as well as government representatives, human rights activists and media owners.

Representatives of a cross-section of civil society held a round-table meeting in Islamabad today as journalists and their supporters across Pakistan took to the streets again in the culmination of the first phase of their campaign to demand the restoration of a free media and free expression in Pakistan.

At the round-table meeting, a statement to be issued by the IFJ and its affiliates, including the PFUJ and members of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), calls on President Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan’s caretaker government:

•    To restore, both in spirit and practice, the right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of association in Pakistan.

•    To revoke immediately the ordinances issued since 3 November that amend the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, 2002 (including, Section 5A) and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance, 2002 (including, Section 20).

•    To end broadcasting bans immediately and restore the right to publish and broadcast to all media outlets in Pakistan, without fear or favour.

•    To withdraw all charges and/or penalties applied or pending under the above ordinances.

•    To release and absolve all journalists and human rights activists arrested or detained since 3 November, and held without charge or explanation or on the questionable grounds of the above ordinances.

•    To refrain from seeking to influence the leadership and/or authorities of other countries to support Pakistan’s actions in denying its citizens free and open access to information from within and without Pakistan.

•    To end all incursions and raids by authorities and military on the offices and/or homes of media businesses and personnel, in reference to the above ordinances.

•    To abolish the PEMRA code of conduct and desist from coercing media businesses and personnel to sign it.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries