CPJ asks govt to investigate journalists’ deaths
PESHAWAR, July 28 2006: Pakistani officials have promised to review investigative records and reveal government information on the deaths of seven Pakistani journalists killed for their work since 2002, as well as official records in 20 other cases in which journalists have been assaulted or improperly detained. A press release said the pledge came during meetings between a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists and Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, Secretary of the Interior Syed Kamal Shah, and NWFP Governor Lt Gen (Retd) Ali Mohammed Jan Aurakzai. The officials also pledged to establish a continuing dialogue with Pakistani journalist organisations and to assure them of government support for journalists’ safety.
“We’re pleased by these initial promises from Pakistani officials, but it’s important to note that this is just a start in ensuring that journalists can cover sensitive issues without fearing for their lives,” said CPJ’s Asia Programme Coordinator Bob Dietz, a member of the delegation.
The CPJ delegation, which arrived in Islamabad on July 21, sought the meetings following the killings of freelance journalist Hayatullah Khan on June 16 in North Waziristan and Munir Ahmed Sangi, of the Kawish Television Network (KTN) on May 29 in Larkana. CPJ is concerned that eight journalists have been killed for their work in Pakistan since 2002. Only one of those cases-that of US journalist Daniel Pearl has been thoroughly investigated.
“The investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the murder of Wall Street Journal Correspondent Daniel Pearl showed the government of Pakistan can perform well in combating crimes against journalists,” said delegation member David Marash, a CPJ board member and anchor for soon-to-be-launched Al-Jazeera International. “We have proposed several concrete steps that could ensure a similar level of performance in the cases of crimes against Pakistani journalists. We feel our ideas got a fair and sympathetic hearing from government officials, and we await the expression of that sympathy in appropriate actions.”
The CPJ delegation, which also included journalist Richard Murphy, met with members of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, the Tribal Union of Journalists, and other journalists to learn of the threats that media workers face from all sides.
Source: The News