JournalismPakistan.com April 30, 2014
Journalists in Pakistan live under the constant threat of killings, harassment and other violence from all sides, including intelligence services, political parties and armed groups like the Taliban, Amnesty International says in a new report.
'A bullet has been chosen for you': Attack on Journalists in Pakistan', describes how the Pakistani authorities have almost completely failed to stem human rights abuses against media workers or to bring those responsible to account.
Amnesty International has documented 34 cases of journalists being killed in Pakistan in response to their work since the restoration of democratic rule in 2008, but only in one case have the perpetrators been brought to justice.
But these killings are just the most brutal statistic – many more journalists have been threatened, harassed, abducted, tortured or escaped assassination attempts in the same period.
“Pakistan’s media community is effectively under siege. Journalists, in particular those covering national security issues or human rights, are targeted from all sides in a disturbing pattern of abuses carried out to silence their reporting,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.
“The constant threat puts journalists in an impossible position, where virtually any sensitive story leaves them at risk of violence from one side or another.”
The report is based on extensive field research into over 70 cases and interviews with over 100 media workers in Pakistan. It examines several recent cases where journalists have been targeted for their reporting by a range of actors.
Numerous journalists interviewed by Amnesty International complained of harassment or attacks by individuals. Journalists are also victims of human rights abuses by non-state groups across the country.
Despite the wave of violence and attacks, the Pakistani authorities have largely failed to hold perpetrators to account. In the overwhelming number of cases researched by Amnesty International, authorities rarely adequately investigated threats or attacks or brought those responsible to justice.
Only in a handful of high-profile cases have more thorough investigations been carried out, and only after public outrage has made it impossible for authorities not to act.
“The government has promised to improve the dire situation for journalists, including by establishing a public prosecutor tasked with investigating attacks against journalists. But few concrete steps have been taken,” said David Griffiths.
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