Khawer Mehdi Rizvi : Protest to the President of Pakistan

General Pervez Musharraf

President and Chief Executive of Pakistan

Via Email: CE@pak.gov.pk


Dear General Musharraf,


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned over the safety of missing local freelance journalist Khawer Mehdi Rizvi, of BBC World and an English daily in Islamabad. We are calling for your Government to immediately disclose Rizvi's whereabouts and release him forthwith.


According to our information, Rizvi has been missing since he was arrested in Karachi on 16 December 2003. Rizvi was arrested with two French colleagues Marc Epstein photographer, and Jean-Paul Guilloteau, journalist, both of the well known 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.


Epstein and Guilloteau were sentenced to six months in prison by a Karachi court on 10 January and were later released and fined one hundred thousand rupees and sent back to France after strong diplomatic pressure.


According to reports, Mr Rizvi remains in custody. Karachi's high court has asked officials to reveal the whereabouts of Mr Rizvi however the authorities continue to deny any such knowledge, despite the appearance of Mr Rizvi on Pakistani television days after he was arrested with Pakistani officials.


The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) IFJ's affiliate in Pakistan is also concerned that Rizvi's mysterious disappearance reinforces the suspicion that he is being subjected to maltreatment through traditional use of torture.


The IFJ reminds the Government of Pakistan that Rizvi is entitled to a fair and public trial under Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The IFJ demands that that the Government of Pakistan abides by the ruling of the Karachi court and makes the whereabouts of Rizvi known.


The IFJ respectfully reminds the Government of Pakistan of its responsibility to freedom of the press. Further the use of intimidation and illegal detention of journalists is in blatant disregard of these principles.


Yours sincerely,


Christopher Warren

President, IFJ


cc Federal Minister Information and Broadcasting

Mr. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed

Via Email: infominister@infopak.gov.pk


Recommended action:

Send appeals:

o Expressing Concern over safety of missing journalist, Khawer Mehdi Rizvi

o Urging the Government of Pakistan to reveal the whereabouts of Khawer Mehdi Rizvi and immediately release him.

o Remind the Government of Pakistan to respect the independence and freedom of the media in Pakistan.


Appeals:

General Pervez Musharraf

President and Chief Executive of Pakistan

Via Email: CE@pak.gov.pk


Federal Minister Information and Broadcasting

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed

Via Email: infominister@infopak.gov.pk


For more information please contact IFJ Asia at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au

Please copy appeals to the IFJ Asia Office at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au