Crimes against journalists
This is in reference to Anwer Mooraj’s article “Crimes against JournalistsÂ” (Nov 6). Unprecedented incidents of violence against journalists have been reported under the present regime. There are already over 50 such cases in 2006 alone including the killing of four journalists; even journalistsÂ’ brothers were killed in three cases.
Journalists have been targeted both by militant groups as well as by the intelligence agencies. The journalists who have recently been freed have accused intelligence agencies of physical and mental torture. This includes reporter Mukesh Rupeta and cameraman Sanjay Kumar of GEO, Saeed Sarbazi, senior sub-editor of Business Recorder and Joint Secretary of Karachi Press Club, Member Executive National Executive Committee of APNEC, Mehrdin Mari, reporter of leading Sindhi daily Kawish.
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists has been raising these issues and has even suggested measures for the protection of journalists. We have conducted workshops on “conflict reporting,” but the role of the media organisations is very important. What should be done to prevent these incidents particularly in the tribal areas? There is not a single journalist working in the tribal areas or in interior of Sindh, who is a regular or even a contractual employee of newspaper organisation. It is important for organisations to have full time professional journalists on board, particularly those working in conflict areas.
It is the prime responsibility of the newspaper establishments to arrange training courses for journalists, covering conflicts in the urban areas, rural areas or in the tribal areas. All journalists must be provided complete insurance cover, given life-saving jackets, additional bonus etc. Photographers and cameramen should be given extra allowances as they are more vulnerable then reporters. As for those media people who are killed or injured, compensation should be provided by their employing media organisations and not the government, unless he or she is a victim of police or intelligence agencies brutality.
In April, this year a photographer Shoaib lost an eye while performing his duty during a suicide attack at Nishtar Park. His organisation dumped him and there is no one to look after him. He may not be able to continue his work. The media must fight its own battle. After a long struggle journalists have been able to achieve some freedom of the press, though there are still dozens of black laws confronting freedom of the press and some new laws have been introduced.