33 journalists killed in Pakistan in past six years: report

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A total of 32 FIRs have been registered for the murder of 33 journalists during 2013-19. — AFP/File
A total of 32 FIRs have been registered for the murder of 33 journalists during 2013-19. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: At least 33 journalists were murdered for their journalism work in Pakistan during the past six years, including seven in the past one year (November 2018 to October 2019) alone, according to Freedom Network.

The new report titled ‘100% Impunity for Killers, 0% Justice for Pakistan’s Murdered Journalists: Crime and Punishment in Pakistan’s Journalism World’ issued a ‘Pakistan Impunity Scorecard’ which reveals frightening statistics.

The report is released ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists observed by the United Nations on Nov 2 every year.

According to the Pakistan Impunity Scorecard, a total of 32 FIRs were registered for the murder of 33 journalists during the period 2013-19, of which police could file challan (charge-sheet) in only 20 cases — or in 60 per cent of cases. Out of 33 cases, the courts declared only 20 cases fit for trial (60pc) of which prosecution and trial was completed in only six cases — only 18pc.

In these six cases, the killer was convicted in just one case but escaped punishment after successfully overturning the conviction at the appeal stage after which the family of the murdered journalist abandoned its pursuit for justice for lack of resources.

The above statistics include the cases of seven journalists murdered in Pakistan in the past one year (between November 2018 and October 2019). According to the report, FIRs were registered in all seven cases, but charge-sheet was filed by the police in only four cases (57pc).

In short, none of these seven cases reached the critical stage where the courts could hand a verdict and provide justice.

According to Freedom Network, the impunity enjoyed by the killers of journalists in Pakistan is one of the highest in the world.

The organisation working for defending press freedom and freedom of expression said its report is based on a special impunity index developed by it and by examining the FIRs registered in the murder of journalists and interviews with the families, lawyers and colleagues of the murdered journalists revealing the following startling findings:

Meanwhile, International Press Institute (IPI) in a statement released in connection with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists said that democracies around the world were failing to protect journalists and investigate killings and crimes against them.

According to the Vienna-based IPI’s Death Watch, as many as 40 journalists lost their lives over the last year. Of these, 25 were lost their lives in targeted attacks in retaliation for their work, frequently in response to reports exposing corruption or the activities of crime syndicates. Eight journalists died while covering conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen and one was killed covering civil unrest.

Six journalists died while on assignment; two in Somalia and one each in Brazil, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The majority of targeted killings took place in the Americas, where 18 journalists were killed.

An analysis of the Death Watch data shows that over the years the majority of the targeted killings have taken place in democracies and impunity for such crimes remains high in these countries.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2019