Pakistani journalists rally for press freedom and journalists rights

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), the Pakistan affiliate of the IFJ, reports that more than 400 journalists, newspaper workers, human rights activists, lawyers, teachers, trade unionists and doctors rallied for the freedom of the press in Karachi on August 9.

The rally, organised by Karachi Union of Journalists, affiliate of the PFUJ, covered a distance of about three kilometres, from the Karachi Press Club to the tomb of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan.

Rally participants condemned the continued harassment of journalists, arrest of two editors, newspaper employees and newspaper vendors during the crackdown in July for allegedly publishing "hate material".

"A free press is the hallmark of a working democracy, and all attempts to muzzle the media must be strongly resisted," said the IFJ President, Christopher Warren.

"Pakistan must take decisive steps to ensure fundamental press freedom and journalists' rights are put into practice and upheld, particularly in the light of the upcoming five-year anniversary of the non-implementation of the Seventh Wage Board Decision," said the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide.

The Seventh Wage Board Decision, which gave Pakistani journalists a legal right to a fair wage, was announced on October 8, 2001 and backdated to July 2000, but has been ignored by Pakistani newspaper owners.

The Eight Wage Board Decision was due to be handed down in July this year but with no sign from publishers' that they will honor the last decision, it appears unlikely any new legal wage obligations would be met.

The IFJ and its affiliates will be staging protests during a day of action to mark the anniversary of the Seventh Wage Board Decision in early October, and urge the Pakistan Government to take a strong stance and ensure the Eight Wage Board Decision is handed down and taken up by employers.

"It is unacceptable for publishers continue to flout the law and deprive journalists the living wage they need to support their families and practice professional, quality journalism," said IFJ President, Christopher Warren.

"Publishers' complete and protracted disregard of their legal wage obligations is both frustrating and insulting for journalist," said the IFJ President.

"Rallies like the one on August 9 clearly demonstrate strong support for a free, independent and fairly remunerated journalism community in Pakistan," said Warren.

Meanwhile, owners of the Jang (largest circulated Urdu language newspaper) have appealed to the Supreme Court against a decision awarding the Jang Employees Union a wage bonus claim.

For more information contact Christopher Warren +61 (0) 411 757 668
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries