May 3rd, 2014
Amnesty has released its latest report entitled “A Bullet Has Been Chosen For You” – Attacks On Journalists In Pakistan
The situation in Pakistan seems dire. Here are the highlights:
- At least 34 journalists may have been killed as a direct consequence of their work since democratically-elected government was restored in March 2008.
- Only in one case have the perpetrators been convicted, the 2011 killing of Geo TV correspondent Wali Khan Babar, and even in this case there were serious concerns about fair trial issues.
- Since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif formed government in 5 June 2013, at least 8 journalists have been killed across Pakistan as a direct result of their work. These include 5 journalists killed in 2014.
- Of the 34 killings since 2008, 9 took place in northwestern Pakistan (the Federally Administered Tribal Areas or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
- 13 took place in Balochistan province, and of these 6 happened in the province’s second town Khuzdar.
Introduction of the report mentions Raza Rumi, the founder/editor of this website:
“I was told my name was on a Taliban hit-list, but I hoped this was just a tactic to scare journalists like me speaking about the situation in my country. How wrong I was.” Raza Rumi, journalist
On the afternoon of 27 March 2014, journalist and human rights defender Raza Rumi contacted Amnesty International to register reports that his name was on a Pakistani Taliban hit-list. “I’m not sure if it’s real or just an attempt to silence me, but I’m very concerned,” he told Amnesty International.1 The next day while driving home after completing his weekly television programme in the city of Lahore, his car was sprayed with bullets. “I was sitting in the back and instinctively ducked under the seat” he said, while glass shattered all around him. His driver Mohammad Mustafa was killed in the hail of bullets as the car continued to lurch until hitting an electrical pole. Rumi narrowly escaped with his life and suffered only minor injuries. But Anwar Hussain, a security guard in the car with him, hired as protection following the threats, received serious gunshot wounds and was paralyzed.
Raza Rumi’s ordeal was far from unique. According to Amnesty International research, at least 34 journalists have been assassinated as a direct consequence of their work since democratically-elected government was restored in Pakistan in March 2008. Since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif formed government on 5 June 2013, at least eight journalists are believed to have been killed across Pakistan in response to their work. Shortly before the release of this report, broadcaster Hamid Mir, a prominent critic of the military and the Pakistani Taliban, was fighting for his life in hospital after narrowly escaping a shooting in the city of Karachi on 19 April 2014. Over a hundred journalists across the country have given Amnesty International first-hand accounts of harassment, abduction, torture and attempted killings at the hands of state and non-state perpetrators. The facts and circumstances of these abuses vary from case to case, and in different regions journalists face different types of risks. However, all these abuses share the common purpose of seeking to silence the media and stifle public debate.
Although six men were arrested for the attack on Rumi and an investigation is ongoing at the time of writing, impunity is the norm for attacks on journalists. In the overwhelming majority of cases investigated by Amnesty International, the Pakistani authorities failed to carry out prompt, impartial, independent and thorough investigations into human rights abuses against journalists,2 or to bring those responsible to justice.
Pakistan has a reputation for having a fearless and vibrant media. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, it is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, judging by the extent and severity of harassment and other abuse they face. The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked Pakistan as the fourth most dangerous country in the world for journalists, while Reporters Without Borders placed the country 158th out of 167 documented countries in its World Press Freedom Index for 2014…