Call For Action To Combat Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists In Sindh

Press Release

KARACHI, 06 June 2024: Representatives of journalist unions and press clubs from across Sindh called upon authorities to take urgent actions for the safety of journalists and freedom of expression in the province.

The representatives, belonging to Sukkur, Khairpur, Hyderabad and Karachi, were speaking at the launch of a special report titled ‘Journalism in the Shadow of Violence’ by Freedom Network at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday.

The event was organised by the Sindh chapter of the Pakistan Journalists Safety Coalition (PJSC), which advocates with policymakers in the province for the protection of journalists.

Freedom Network Executive Director Iqbal Khattak said the report describes the current situation of media freedoms and journalists’ safety in Sindh.

“Sindh continues to remain one of the most concerning regions for the safety of journalists in Pakistan, even though the province has a special legislation to combat impunity in crimes against journalists,” Khattak said.

According to the report, there were 184 incidents of violence against journalists in Sindh between 2018 and 2023, including the killings of 10 journalists.

PJSC Sindh Chapter President journalist Amir Lateef said the targeting of journalists in the province has increased alarmingly, especially in northern Sindh which has witnessed a disturbing rise in physical attacks against journalists.

“The issue is that the State is not supporting journalists,” he said. “We will use the report’s findings to lobby with government officials and policymakers to ensure that they support the journalist community against safety risks.”

Speakers at the event demanded that the Sindh Commission for the Protection of Journalists and other Media Practitioners should be immediately empowered to assist journalists in distress.

Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas said the media owners should also be held accountable for the safety of their workers. Khan Muhammad, President of the Khairpur Press Club, said journalists in rural Sindh require support against legal and physical threats. Imdad Buzdar, the President of Sukkur Press Club, said journalists must unite for a constant struggle for their rights. Sajjad Khanzada, the President of Hyderabad Press Club, said brazen attacks on journalists will continue until the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Earlier, Khattak shared details of the report, which shows that the growing influence of critical journalists, their low-income backgrounds, the lack of enforcement of labour laws in the news industry and the lack of digital safety skills create pressures for local journalists, making them vulnerable to threats and forcing them to take undue risks.

“When you challenge the system, it often triggers reaction,” the report quoted a senior police official about attacks against journalists, indicating that local reporters are trying to report critically and independently on abuses of power.

The report recommends that professional journalism and safety-related training should be organised for local journalists. It also suggests that the Sindh Bar Council and journalist unions should collaborate to offer legal support to journalists. The report also calls for the Sindh Commission for the Protection of Journalists and other Media Practitioners to be made fully functional with regional offices set up across the province to assist journalists.

Click below link to download PDF version of full report:

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