IFJ Protests Against Continued Detention of Pakistani Journalist Following Release of French Reporters

The International Federation of Journalists has protested to the Government of Pakistan calling for the release of local freelance journalist Khawer Mehdi Rizvi, who continues to remain in custody in an undisclosed location, despite the ruling on 12 January of the Sindh High Court acquitting him of a crime and reducing the sentences of his French colleagues, Marc Epstein and Jean-Paul Guilloteau to a fine.


In a letter of protest to the Government of Pakistan, the IFJ has called for the release of Rizvi and welcomed the reduced punishment of the two French journalists.


The IFJ has protested to the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, in the following letter:


13 January 2004


General Pervez Musharraf

President and Chief Executive of Pakistan


Via Email: CE@pak.gov.pk



Dear General Musharraf,


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned over the continued illegal imprisonment of local freelance journalist Khawer Mehdi Rizvi after the Sindh High Court acquitted him of a crime.


According to our information, the Sindh High Court reduced the six-month sentence of Marc Epstein, photographer, and Jean-Paul Guilloteau, journalist, both of the well known French weekly publication L’Express, to a fine of one hundred thousand rupees for breaking the Foreigners Act 1964 by travelling to the border region of Quetta in Baluchistan in western Pakistan without special permission.


Epstein and Guilloteau appeared before Judge Nuzhat Ara Hakvi on 10 January. Epstein and Guilloteau were sentenced to six months in prison and fined 1,350 Euros. The two were arrested in Karachi on 16 December by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for violating regulations governing the visit of foreigners to Pakistan, in particular by visiting Quetta without valid permits.


Local journalist Khawer Mehdi Rizvi, who was assisting the pair and who also works for an English daily in Islamabad, was also arrested, and continues to be held in an unknown location despite the recent acquittal of Rizvi of any crime. The IFJ thus requests that the Pakistani Government release him without any further delay.


The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) is also concerned that Rizvi’s mysterious disappearance reinforces the suspicion that he is being subjected to maltreatment through traditional use of torture.


The IFJ respectfully reminds the Government of Pakistan of its responsibility to freedom of the press. Further the use of intimidation and illegal detention of journalists is in blatant disregard of these principles.


Yours sincerely,




Christopher Warren

President, IFJ



cc Federal Minister Information and Broadcasting

Mr. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed


Via Email: infominister@infopak.gov.pk


Recommended action:


Send appeals:


  • Welcoming the decision by the Appeal Court to reduce the sentence against French journalists Marc Epstein and Jean-Paul Guilloteau

  • Urging the Government of Pakistan to reveal the whereabouts of Khawer Mehdi Rizvi and immediately release him.

  • Remind the Government of Pakistan to respect the independence and freedom of the media in Pakistan.



    Appeals:


    General Pervez Musharraf

    President and Chief Executive of Pakistan

    Via Email: CE@pak.gov.pk


    Federal Minister Information and Broadcasting

    Sheikh Rashid Ahmed

    Via Email: infominister@infopak.gov.pk



    For more information please contact IFJ Asia at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au


    Please copy appeals to the IFJ Asia Office at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au