IFJ Calls for Immediate Release of Missing Pakistani Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) the global organisation of journalists is deeply concerned for the safety of missing Pakistani freelance journalist Khawer Mehdi Rizvi, and has protested to the Government of Pakistan calling for an immediate disclosure of his whereabouts and his immediate release.

Rizvi has been missing since his arrest in Karachi on 16 December 2003 despite numerous court orders from the Sindh High Court of Karachi for the Government to produce evidence of his whereabouts.

"The situation for this journalist is becoming increasingly dire with the Government continuing to refuse to disclose his whereabouts, "President of the IFJ, Christopher Warren, said today.

"While the Government stalls on providing information about Rizvi, we fear he continues to suffer unfairly without access to due legal process," said Warren.

Rizvi was arrested with two French colleagues Marc Epstein and Jean-Paul Guilloteau both of the French weekly publication L'Express, while covering suspected Taliban activity in the border region of Quetta in Baluchistan. The three were arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for violating the Foreigners Act 1964 by travelling to the border region in western Pakistan without special permission.

The Sindh High Court division bench in Karachi on 20 January heard the third denial by high level Pakistani Government officials after Rizvi's brother, Sohail Mehdi Rizvi lodged a habeas corpus petition requesting information on Rizivi's whereabouts.

Sarwar Khan, Advocate-General of Sindh and Syed Zaki Muhammad, Deputy Attorney-General, appeared before the High Court of Karachi and denied that the Federal Government of Pakistan was holding Rizvi.

Court officials ordered that the officials should return to court on 22 January with information on the whereabouts of Rizvi. However the Government officials did not show to court.

The judge then asked 'all agencies' to get information surrounding the whereabouts of Rizvi and to deliver the information to the court on 27 January.

The Sindh Home Department has filed a statement denying that Khawar Mehdi Rizvi was ever arrested or detained in any jail or police station in Sindh.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) the IFJ's affiliate in Pakistan is concerned that if the Pakistani Military service are holding Rizvi that he is being subjected to physical maltreatment and traditional torture techniques.

"This blatant disregard for human rights must not be allowed to continue," said the IFJ in a letter to the President of Pakistan.

"While the IFJ welcomes the release of the two French journalists we find it appalling that the Government of Pakistan continues to deny knowledge of the whereabouts of Rizvi," Warren said.

For further information, please contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668.

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