SAMC bemoans chained media in region
LAHORE (May 04 2007): On the World Press Freedom Day, May 3, the South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) Wednesday bemoaned the killing of four journalists in the region where it said media freedom suffered continued decline.
Afghan journalist Ajmal Nakshbandi and his associate Sayed Agha, a media worker, and Selvarajah Rajivarnam, a reporter for Tamil newspaper Uthayan, and Chandraboas, editor of the Tamil-language monthly magazine Nilam, in Sri Lanka were killed this year.
Also for publication of two articles, Editor of Minivan Daily, Aminath Najeeb, faces charges of disobedience to order which may hand her down 18 months in jail if she is found guilty. A third charge is also pending but the government has so far not identified the offending article.
Ms Najeeb says she is “dead scared” she will be jailed. “If I am sent to prison, I fear for my life,” she said. “May 3 serves as a reminder that our right to freedom of expression is all too often violated – and that many journalists face jail or even death to give us each day our daily news,” the South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) said in a statement.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, as outlined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
“World Press Freedom Day reminds both citizens and governments that they need to reaffirm this right “as an essential foundation of the information society”, N Ram, the Chairperson of the Commission, and Najam Sethi, the Secretary General, said in a statement.
“But violence, psychological and physical, threats to life and livelihood, kidnapping, detention and expulsion, arrests and detentions continued for media persons during the first quarter of 2007 in South Asia. Media houses like Geo in Pakistan and Star in India were vandalised and media products robbed, banned and banished. Commercial advertisements and newsprint were used to bully media management’s to submit to the whims and wishes of those in authority.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority pressured the private Aaj TV channel in Pakistan to toe the government line by temporarily suspending its transmission after issuing a show-cause notice for what it said violating the rules and regulations by broadcasting talk-shows, debates and news about the judicial crisis in the country,” the Commission’s regional co-ordinator Husain Naqi lamented.
“Resort to violence against the media during the first quarter of 2007 was considered as an effective instrument to bully and intimidate it for enforcing a cover-up to the misdeeds of perpetrators and force tilt in media coverage for the activities of their organisations,” he said.
The South Asia Media Commission is a new media watchdog formed in April this year to monitor journalists’ safety and violation of media rights. It is envisaged to promptly respond to such violations to press for remedial action.
Source: Business Recorder