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Petitioning The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and 3 others

#JournoSafePK- Defend Journalism. Standup for Your Right to a Free Media.

Sep 9, 2015

 
Honourable Prime Minister of Pakistan

Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif

Prime Minister Secretariat

Islamabad, Pakistan.


Between 8th and 9th September 2015, two media workers have been killed in Pakistan in three targeted attacks. A reporter from PTV and a driver of a DSNG van from Geo News are struggling for their lives after sustaining bullet wounds in these attacks. In the light of these attacks on media workers in Karachi and Peshawar, we are writing to express our alarm and deep concern over worsening situation for the practitioners of free media in Pakistan.


The Federal Government, time and again has expressed its commitment to help foster a free media in Pakistan and improve the security situation for journalists and media workers. We appreciate the government’s acknowledgement of and commitment to tackle the dangers to journalists and media workers in Pakistan. We also acknowledge the initiative to make public, for the first time, the number of journalists who have been killed in Pakistan during the last 5 years as an essential first step. However, as the official figures and the current incidents prove, the situation for media in Pakistan remains grim. 


We, as media professionals and activists working for media, are penning down this letter to;

 
*) remind the government of its commitments to end impunity publicly made to different media development groups including Committee for Protection of Journalists, CPJ and Pakistan Coalition on Media Safety, PCOMS

*) remind the government of its International Commitments under the UN Action Plan and to the UN Human Rights Council

*) request the government to fulfil the commitments made to UNESCO and the international and national media development groups and

*) demand justice for those journalists who have been killed and attacked in the line of duty in Pakistan


Pakistan is one of the pilot countries for UNESCO led UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and Issue of Impunity. As a member state of the United Nations and having endorsed the plan, the government of Pakistan holds an international obligation to “to develop legislation and mechanisms guaranteeing freedom of expression and information, including, for example, requirements that States effectively investigate and prosecute crimes against freedom of expression”.

We divert your attention to UN Resolution 22.22 adopted in March 2015 that calls on the member states to “take appropriate steps to ensure accountability for crimes committed against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel” and “to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment for journalists, media professionals and associated personnel to perform their work independently and without undue interference in situations of armed conflict”.

 
We humbly remind you, Mr. Prime Minister, that you, yourself, expressed concern over the state of journalist security in Pakistan during a meeting with CPJ in March 2013 and expressed the commitment to establish a joint commission to address continued attacks on media workers and expedite the prosecution of the killers of their killers.


Multiple cabinet members including Federal Minister for Information and State Minister Law and Justice Mr, Parvez Rashid and State Minister for Interior Mr. Baleegh ur Rehman, addressing an International Conference to combat impunity and ensure security of journalists in January 2015, also shared the concerns of journalist groups and media development bodies and reaffirmed their commitment to take necessary steps to ensure that those involved in targeting journalists are brought to justice.

 
We would humbly like to remind you of the fundamental purpose an independent and responsible media plays in a democracy and the harm that a country like Pakistan could sustain if media are not allowed to operate with independence, responsibility and security.  To allow the media to perform its key function and to ensure Pakistan keeps up with its national and international obligations we urge you to urgently;


1. Enact an operational joint commission as per your own commitments to develop an effective and sustainable solution to tackle impunity and secure safety of journalists in Pakistan.

2. Expedite the process of investigations and persecution of criminals involved in the killing of journalists in Pakistan over the last decade

3. Initiate formal, serious and fruitful discussion within the legislative bodies for the enactment of Media workers protection bill, that defines an effective process of investigations, including the appointment of a special prosecutor

4. End the culture of impunity that has prevailed in Pakistan so far 

5. Make public the status of investigations regarding the attack on Hamid Mir

6. And Ensure the protection of freedom of expression in Pakistan by establishing an environment in which journalists and media can perform the vital function of uncovering the truth and sharing it with their fellow countrymen without a risk to their lives.


We urge you honorable Prime Minister to take up this issue with utomost urgency and hope that we will see some development towards ending impunity soon.


Sincerely,


Asad Baig, Executive Director, Media Matter for Democracy

 
Sadaf Khan, Programs Director, Media Matters for Democracy

This petition was delivered to:
  • The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
  • Federal Information Minister, Pervaiz Rasheed
  • Federal Interior Minister,
  • Federal Interior Minister, Chaudhary Nisar Khan

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