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The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns the arrests of journalists in Pakistan following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on December 27.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate, said that 10 journalists in Sindh province who were reporting on events related to Ms Bhutto’s death have been arrested under anti-terrorism and riot laws.
The PFUJ reported that 34 cases were registered against journalists in the province’s interior since December 27. Of these, 19 journalists work for Kawish Television Network (KTN), the most watched private Sindhi language channel, and the Sindhi newspaper Daily Kawish.
It was also reported that police raided the homes of journalists in various parts of the province.
The journalists accused authorities of falsely implicating them in riots since December 27, due to their reporting of Ms Bhutto’s assassination and the public unrest that followed.
The PFUJ demanded the immediate release of the journalists and the withdrawal of the complaints. It encouraged the journalists to record the details of their cases and report them to the Sindh Home Department for investigation.
IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said it was unacceptable for journalists to be arrested without evidence because they were carrying out their professional duty to keep the public informed. She supported the PFUJ in demanding that the authorities make public the basis of the arrests and complaints.
“These latest arrests and cases lodged against journalists in Pakistan are part of a continuing and alarming effort by authorities in Pakistan to silence the media and prevent independent coverage of events of great national and international significance,” Ms Park said. “The complaints must be withdrawn promptly.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries