ISLAMABAD: Five Pakistani journalists are among the 67 media personnel killed so far during 2022 in the line of duty, according to figures released by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Sunday.

IFJ renewed its call for concrete actions to protect the safety and freedoms of journalists as it recorded a spike in the numbers of journalists killed or imprisoned during 2022. Last year, 47 journalists were killed, IFJ said.

The Pakistani journalists, who lost lives in 2022 and recorded in the IFJ list, were: Hasnain Shah, Ziaur Rehman Farooqi, Iftikhar Ahmed, Muhammad Younis and Sadaf Naeem.

The federation emphasised that the vote on the IFJ Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists by the UN General Assembly has become urgent. “It is now time for the General Assembly to pass the IFJ Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists,” said IFJ General-Secretary Anthony Bellanger.

“The surge in the killings of journalists and other media workers is a grave cause of concern and yet another wake up call for governments across the globe to take action in the defence of journalism, one of the key pillars of democracy,” said Mr Bellanger.

“The failure to act will only embolden those who seek to suppress the free flow of information and undermine the ability of people to hold their leaders to account, including in ensuring that those with power and influence do not stand in the way of open and inclusive societies,” he said.

The IFJ’s list also shows that political repression has reared its ugly head during 2022 from China to Belarus, and from Egypt to Hong Kong, Iran, Myanmar, Turkiye and Russia in a bid to silence media and crush protests for freedom. Journalists have been among the first victims of the crackdowns with at least 375 journalists and media workers currently behind bars, a new high since two years ago when the IFJ began publishing lists of jailed journalist.

China and its allies in Hong Kong top the list with 84 journalists in jail, followed by Myanmar (64), Turkiye (51), Iran (34), Belarus (33), Egypt (23), Russia and Crimea (29), Saudi Arabia (11), Yemen (10), Syria (9) and India (7).

The Middle East and Arab World saw the killings of media professionals rise from three last year to five, including the shooting in broad daylight of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Four journalists were killed in Chad and Somalia, meaning Africa recorded the lowest number of deaths among the five regions on the IFJ’s ‘Killed List’ behind the Americas (29), Asia Pacific (16), Europe (13) and Middle East and Arab World (5).

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2022

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