ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan must bring to justice those involved in kidnapping and killing journalists and create a safe environment for media workers, a top media rights official said Sunday.
Four journalists were murdered in Pakistan last year and some 20 media workers were abducted, Christopher Warren, president of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), told a news conference.
“The continued killing, kidnapping and harassment of journalists in Pakistan is intolerable and must cease,” Warren said. “In almost none of the cases have the guilty parties been arrested and convicted.”
The Pakistani authorities’ continued failure to punish those who mistreat journalists has created a “climate of impunity, a sense that the murderers in these cases will always escape the law,” he added.
The IFJ president is leading a group of journalists on an “urgent” five-day mission to Pakistan in response to a deteriorating press freedom situation and worsening safety environment, the federation said.
Other members included Bharat Bushan, editor of The Telegraph in New Delhi, and Chris Morley, president of the British National Union of Journalists.
In a statement read out at the press conference, global media watchdog Reporters without Borders alleged that Pakistan’s spy services were targeting journalists.
“Security agencies must be ordered to stop immediately the harassment and kidnapping… Arrests are a clear violation of press freedom and go against the commitment of the highest officials, including President Pervez Musharraf,” the statement said.
Both Islamic militants and Pakistani authorities have been blamed for the recent killings and kidnappings of journalists.
On Wednesday the local editor of an Urdu-language newspaper in the northwestern city of Peshawar escaped with a friend from unidentified kidnappers after 50 days in captivity.