Image Courtesy: India Tomorrow
At least 5 international human rights group have nominated Pakistan as a one of the most dangerous country for practising journalism. In past 15 years about 109 journalists have lost their lives in the line of duty, 73 of which were targeted; identified and shot pointblank. Hundreds more are threatened on a daily basis, pressurised in towing lines. Those who don’t stand to lose their lives or that of their loved ones.
What’s worse is that impunity in the cases of murder is nearly absolute. Only 4 out of 73 cases of murder have seen convictions. The gravity of the situation suggests that prevailing impunity is not procedural but intentional; an attempt to cover the tracks of perpetrators who are often politically motivated.
Successive governments have expressed the commitment to end impunity enjoyed by those involved in targeting of journalists in Pakistan but to no effect. The PML-N government has publicly committed this cause and has repeated that they will ensure safety of journalists who are under attack. However, these promises have not yet translated into action. Attacks on media continue unchecked. The continued threat to media workers thus poses a serious challenge to freedom of expression in the country. We are working with national and international bodies to find solutions, document threats, and create the pressure on Pakistani government to enact a media workers safety bill and ensure that policy and procedure are in place to end impunity and help journalists carry on their key democratic function in a safe and secure manner.
#JournoSafePK is a step in that direction.
Through his campaign we are working to educate citizens of their basic right to a free and fair media, elaborating the impact of censorship (assassinations in this case) on their right to choose and make decisions. Through the campaign we aim to achieve the critical mass required to bring about policy level changes to ensure fair protection for those who exercise free expression.