The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), supported by a coalition of international and local press freedom and journalists’ organisations, has demanded action from the Pakistan government in response to the growing incidents of violence against journalists and the deteriorating press freedom situation.
The mission for press freedom, led by the IFJ and its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), was in Pakistan from February 21 to February 25, to meet with government officials and local journalists to discuss freedom of expression issues and the worsening safety environment.
At a roundtable conference on the “State of Press Freedom in Pakistan”, held in Islamabad on February 24, the group, including IFJ President Christopher Warren, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) President Chris Morley, The Telegraph (India) Editor Bharat Bhushan, Iqbal Khattak, bureau chief of The Daily Times and Pakistan’s representative to Reporters Sans Frontiers, Free Media Movement (Sri Lanka) convener Sunanda Deshapriya, and Pervez Shoukat, president of PFUJ, unanimously passed two resolutions.
One of the resolutions stated: “The right to press and broadcasting freedom, as well as freedom of expression, is fundamental in a civilised state. We believe these freedoms are under threat in Pakistan and action must be taken to ensure they are not lost.”
“The continuing killing, kidnapping and harassment of journalists in Pakistan is intolerable and must cease,” the group also noted.
In the second resolution, the participants condemned the non-implementation of the seventh Wage Board Award, which guarantees improved wages for journalists, and demanded the establishment of the eighth Wage Board Award.
At a press conference to conclude the mission, in Islamabad on February 25, the IFJ president said that the media in Pakistan was facing a “crisis of safety” and called on the Pakistani government to provide greater security to journalists.
“Four journalists have lost their lives in the past 12 months, and we have also seen a deeply disturbing trend emerge where families of journalists have been brutally targeted,” said the president of the IFJ, the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries.
“What makes this even worse is that the perpetrators of these horrific crimes have not been brought to justice, and the inaction of Pakistani authorities in these matters has allowed a culture of impunity to develop,” Warren said.
IFJ President Christopher Warren said the mission was also concerned about government policies that have promoted cross-media ownership, placed police in positions to regulate media and failed to properly implement independent public service broadcasting, all of which have potentially restrict the free media.
“The IFJ, with the PFUJ, will continue to investigate methods to address this grave situation, and we stand in solidarity with our Pakistani colleagues in their struggle for a free, safe and independent media,” Warren said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries