The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) commends the success of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in securing an independent judicial commission headed by a Supreme Court justice to investigate last month’s abduction and murder in Pakistan of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad.
The PFUJ, an IFJ affiliate, reported late on June 20 that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, had approved a request from the Government to form the commission.
Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will lead the inquiry into the disappearance of Shahzad in Islamabad on May 29, and his murder between then and May 31 when his beaten body was found about 150 km southeast of the capital.
“The IFJ joins the PFUJ in looking forward to the prompt appointment of other highly respected individuals alongside Justice Nisar so that the inquiry team can report its findings as soon as possible,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“We anticipate the Government will provide all necessary resources to assist the commission to provide strong recommendations that will ensure Shahzad’s murderers, and all those who commit violence against journalists in Pakistan, know that they will not get away with murder.”
On June 16, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan had informed PFUJ leaders that Justice Nisar would lead a commission of inquiry. However, the judge quickly clarified that he could not do so unless nominated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
On June 19, the PFUJ filed a petition with the court, through its counsel Asma Jehangir, seeking the commission’s constitution. At the direction of the Government, the Ministry of Law and Justice made a simultaneous application.
Late on June 20, the PFUJ said in a statement that a two-member bench of the court had approved the constitution of the commission. The court’s order noted that submissions from all parties had stressed the imperative for a full investigation into Shahzad's case, which was a desire widely expressed among other institutions in Pakistan.
PFUJ President Pervaiz Shaukat and Secretary-General Amin Yousuf welcomed the court’s decision and expressed their support for a fair and transparent inquiry.
Earlier last week, the PFUJ rejected a government proposal to appoint the Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court to lead the inquiry, and went ahead on June 15 with protests that drew up to 1000 journalists and others to an overnight sit-in at the Federal Parliament in Islamabad.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
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