IFJ Calls For an Investigation Into the Physical Assault of Journalist in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, today condemned the assault made by a senior Government official on Saima Zahoor, a journalist with the prominent Urdu Daily newspaper Express.

“The IFJ is appalled by such a blatant attack against a journalist by a Government official,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren today.

“It is the responsibility of the Government to support and encourage the media and investigative reporting, a physical attack on journalist by a government official is unacceptable and sets a dangerous example, “ said Warren.

On 10 July 2004, Zahoor was allegedly slapped and locked in a room by Asif Rahim, deputy Secretary of the Environment Ministry during a meeting to discuss pollution in Rawal Lake. Rahim allegedly became angered by Zahoor’s line of questioning calling for a security guard to escort her from the meeting. When she protested, Rahim slapped her and dragged her from the room, then locked her in a nearby room.

Zahoor was later released by the Deputy Secretary’s staff, after her colleagues and police rushed to the scene after she called them from her mobile phone to inform them of the attack.

The IFJ fully supports local journalists who walked out of the press gallery on 12 July in protest to the attack, and supports their call for Rahim’s suspension and the registration of a criminal complaint against him. In a letter to the Pakistani President, the IFJ has called for an investigation into why a First Information Report (FIR) was not filed against the Deputy Secretary by the police despite the fact that an FIR is the minimum right of any victim according to Pakistani law.

“When one of our colleagues is harassed or attacked it is vital that a full investigation ensues -democracy, decency and justice demand it,” said Warren.

For more information please contact Christopher Warren +61 (0) 411 757 668

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries

See press release at: http://ifg-asia.sitesuite.ws/page/pakistan040714.html

See letter to Government: http://ifj-asia.sitesuite.ws/page/pakistan040714l.html