World bodies seek fresh probe into journalist’s murder

Published June 17, 2021
According to research by the CPJ, at least 61 journalists have been killed in Pakistan since 1992. — AFP/File
According to research by the CPJ, at least 61 journalists have been killed in Pakistan since 1992. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Three international bodies working for press freedom and protection of media persons on Wednesday launched a joint report citing “significant errors” in police investigation into the murder of a senior journalist in rural Sindh more than 13 years ago whose reporting had “exposed local corruption and human rights abuses.”

The representatives of three global press campaigner groups with the family of the victim and researchers and authors of the report launched the document at the Karachi Press Club on the murder of Zubair Mujahid that showed serious flaws in the police investigation pushing these organisations to call for an independent re-investigation into the case to bring the killers to justice The report titled “Breaking the Silence: An Investigation into the Murder of Zubair Mujahid” has been published as part of A Safer World For The Truth, an initiative by the Free Press Unlimited (FPU), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

While reading out a paragraph of the report, Jos Bartman, a research coordinator for A Safer World for The Truth project, said: “Working as a correspondent for the Daily Jang — Pakistan’s largest Urdu language newspaper — in Mirpurkhas, Zubair Mujahid’s reporting exposed local corruption and human rights abuses. Zubair Mujahid was murdered in November 2007 during the turbulent downfall of the regime of Pervez Musharraf.”

Strikingly, Mr Bartman said, some of his most impactful stories exposed wrongdoing by the local police in Mirpurkhas, which led to the dismissal of various police officers. As a consequence, Mr Mujahid received threats from individuals within the police department, he said and added that this very same department was tasked with investigating the murder.

Report finds errors in police investigation, deplores impunity for killing of journalists in country

Adil Jawad, a journalist from Pakistan and co-author of the report, said that it revealed serious errors in the official police investigation. Specifically, he said, the report found that police investigators did not analyse the bullet with which Mr Zubair was shot and did not search for eye witnesses around the crime scene.

The Mirpurkhas police even did not respond to requests for comments, he added.

“The report calls for an effective and impartial investigation team to re-investigate the murder. This must be done under the auspices of the High Court of Sindh,” he read out the findings of the report.

The family members of the victim read out messages of the leaders of the global media campaigners. One of them quoted FPU Director Leon Willems as saying: “killing a journalist is the world’s safest crime: in nine out of ten cases the killer goes free. To break the cycle of impunity, Pakistan’s authorities must step up their efforts to ensure justice for Zubair Mujahid.”

Joel Simon, executive director of the CPJ, also sent his message which was quoted in the report as saying: “Pakistan has seen almost total impunity for the murder of journalists over the past decade. Re-investigating the case of Zubair Mujahid is an important step towards breaking the cycle of impunity.”

“Zubair Mujahid was murdered for exposing the truth. The murder must now be adequately investigated and justice must be achieved,” said Christophe Deloire, secretary general of the RSF.

Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. According to research by the CPJ, at least 61 journalists have been killed since 1992. On the most recent World Press Freedom Index published by the RSF, the country ranks 145 out of 180.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2021

Opinion

A fragmenting ummah
Updated 23 Jul 2021

A fragmenting ummah

Muslims are suffering in many parts of the world, all of which is known by other Muslims, but that nevertheless continues.
Virtual vultures
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Virtual vultures

Pegasus software has stirred a storm of indignation across the globe.
Shifting goalposts
Updated 20 Jul 2021

Shifting goalposts

Afghanistan is one place where proxy war by regional and bigger powers has always been a constant.

Editorial

India’s admission
Updated 21 Jul 2021

India’s admission

It was no secret that India had been manoeuvring behind the scenes to ensure that Pakistan remained on the grey list.
EU headscarf ban
Updated 23 Jul 2021

EU headscarf ban

Moves by the EU to curtail the religious freedoms of Muslims and others in the bloc need to be reviewed.
Disposal of offal
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Disposal of offal

The least people can do is to make an effort and dump entrails in designated areas.
New blow for Pak-Afghan ties
Updated 20 Jul 2021

New blow for Pak-Afghan ties

Islamabad police need to build a watertight case around their final conclusions because the stakes could not have been higher.
20 Jul 2021

FDI decline

THE worrisome, sharp decline in the more permanent, non-debt-creating foreign direct investment, or FDI, should be a...
20 Jul 2021

Another tragic accident

ALMOST every other week, if not every other day, newspapers report deadly road and rail accidents. It has been ...