Pak journalist’s role in tax reforms hailed at world moot
LILLEHAMMER (Norway): Pakistan’s tax reforms have been hailed as a success of quality investigative reporting at a global conference being held here to discuss role of investigative journalists in exposing corruption, organised crime and abuse of power.
The 9th Global Investigative Journalism Conference which opened on Thursday also urged the governments worldwide to prioritise the protection of journalists and to bring an end to the impunity for those who attack them.
Speaking at the conference, one of the most celebrated US investigative journalists James B Steele said he was extremely impressed by the tax investigation of Pakistani journalist and ‘The News’ correspondent Umar Cheema.
Steele, who had won two Pulitzers and 50 other US awards, said Pakistani government’s decision to publish tax directory of parliamentarians was a great success of investigative reporting.
He said Umar Cheema had managed to sensitise the Pakistani government and the public about the importance of tax reforms with his report on parliamentarians who failed to pay taxes despite making the law.
He said the documents were important for producing excellent investigative reports on issues like corruption, mismanagement and lack of accountability.
He said the national interest was a vague term used by the governments to stifle criticism.
“US government tries to stop the New York Times from publishing Pentagon papers on the ground of national security but the same were published and US is still standing,” he said. Steele was referring to a secret Department of Defense study of US political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967.
The conference is being attended by over 900 investigative journalists from 121 countries.
The delegates also discussed threat to media organisations and highlighted challenges being faced by Pakistani electronic media in the conflict zone.
The plenary session of the conference focused on how journalists were fighting back against the extraordinary level of attacks against them worldwide.
After hearing case studies about their colleagues in Angola, Azerbaijan, Malaysia and Mexico, the journalists from around the globe approved a joint declaration.
“Given the extraordinary levels of harassment, persecution, imprisonment and violence directed against investigative journalists and their colleagues worldwide; given the widespread impunity among those who employ these measures; and given the significant contributions made by investigative journalists to expose corruption, organised crime, abuse of power and lack of accountability, and to strengthening civil society; be it resolved that the attendees of the 9th Global Investigative Journalism Conference, representing 121 countries, demand that governments, multilateral agencies, and authorities worldwide should prioritise the protection of journalists and bring an end to impunity for those who attack us.”
During the conference the participants learn about different ways to improve the quality of their work, safety and protection measures required for reporting on sensitive issues and ethical challenges being faced by the journalists.