WASHINGTON: The United Nations has urged Kenya to conduct a thorough investigation into the mysterious death of a Pakistani journalist, Arshad Sharif, and share the findings with the public.
“I saw this tragic report of his death. I think the circumstances need to be investigated thoroughly, and the Kenyan authorities said they would,” Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the UN Secretary General told journalists in New York.
He also underlined the importance of “the results of the investigation being shared quickly.”
At a Monday afternoon news briefing in Washington, Spokesperson Ned Price reiterated the US administration’s call for “a full investigation by the government of Kenya” into Mr Sharif’s death because “it’s not entirely clear … what led to his death.”
Kenyan authorities said earlier that Mr Sharif was hit by police bullets as he sat in a car at a roadblock near Nairobi. The police claimed that they were searching the vehicles for an abducted child when Mr Sharif’s driver drove through the blockade, causing the officers to open fire.
Mr Sharif’s family has rejected the explanation and demanded an independent inquiry.
One of the journalists said Mr Sharif tried to renew his US visa in Dubai, but his application was rejected. Had his visa been renewed, his life could have been saved, the journalist added.
“It’s difficult for me to speak with any specificity regarding what we could do with a particular individual,” Mr Price said, adding that the United States has programmes around the world to bolster protections for those exercising their universal right to freedom of expression.
“And it’s clear through his work that Arshad Sharif was dedicated to that fundamental right of freedom of expression. His work was known around the world,” he said.
The US official also said that the US government was aware that other governments “intimidate, harass, (and) seek to silence the voices of those who are so committed to that freedom of expression.”
Asked if Pakistani journalists living in the US had reasons to fear for their lives as well, Mr Price said that the freedom of expression was not only enshrined in the US Constitution but was also “embedded in America’s DNA” and, therefore, journalists should have no fear in America.
“We also believe that these rights are universal. These are rights that should not only be protected here (but) should be at the heart of societies around the world,” the US official declared.
And when “countries fail to respect these rights, … when they attempt to suppress, repress, or otherwise harass journalists — they tend to hear about it from the United States,” he said. “And that’s a good thing.”
Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2022