ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Freedom Network, a media sector watchdog, on Monday jointly called on Prime Minister Imran Khan to draft and enact legislation for protection of journalists.

The demand was made on the occasion of International Day to End Immunity for Crimes against Journalist and Media, which is observed each year on Nov 2.

The United Nations’ General Assembly declared Nov 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in its resolution A/RES/68/163.

“As Pakistan remains among the top 10 countries where… (perpetrators) of attacks on journalists and media go unpunished, we demand urgent legislation to protect journalists and reverse the current situation affecting freedom of expression negatively,” the joint statement said.

No one has been punished through the court of law for crimes against journalists in Pakistan so far, the statement said. “Thus, Pakistan is among the few countries where impunity for crimes against journalists is taking deep roots and independent and professional journalism is not possible in such an environment of fear.” It said.

“We cannot afford further delay in doing the legislation,” the two organisations reminded the federal government, asking the federal cabinet to quickly approve the draft law on journalists’ protection which federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari prepared after consultation with stakeholders.

In Pakistan, over 130 journalists have been killed since 2002 and no killer has been punished so far, thereby giving total impunity to the murderers.

Besides fatal attacks, journalists face other threat as well like physical attack, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, imprisonment and torture.

Meanwhile, the Karachi Union of Journalists (Barna group) also expressed concern over the impunity for crimes against journalists and noted that police had registered cases against journalists while abductors of Ali Imran and Matiullah Jan had yet to be arrested.

Although notice of the abductions was taken by the Supreme Court and the prime minister, the abductors had not been identified so far, the union said in a statement. It urged the authorities concerned to take notice of the situation and ensure a free and vibrant media in the country.

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2020

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