NGOs report on Pakistan for the Universal Periodic Review under the UN Human Rights Council Session May 2008 – On Freedom of Expression

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Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists

This report is presented by the following organizations on behalf of the civil society of
Pakistan:

1. Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan
2. Aurat Foundation,
3. Pakistan Federal Union Of Journalists
4. Lok Sangat
5. National Commission for Justice and Peace
6. Democratic Commission for Human Development
7. Pakistan Forum for Social Democracy
8. Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO)

Freedom of expression

While illegal radio stations run by the local Taliban continued to operate with impunity and the shops selling Music and films were blown with bombs, the legal and open media faced press advices, threats and closures. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance 2002 was amended via ordinance LXV of 2007, on the November 3rd to suppress to dissenting voices and facilitate the onslaught of emergency.

Between 2000 and 2007, 31 journalists were killed, 315 injured, 387 arrested or kidnapped, 193 intimidated and 109 banned, according to Intermedia. In 2007, 11 journalists were killed, 215 injured, 325 kidnapped, 79 intimidated and 43 banned.10 journalists were arrested and 34 booked under Anti-Terrorism law since December 27, 2007 after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan. According to the reports the police raided the houses of journalists and arrested 19 in Sindh province alone 12.

According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists 13, during 2007 the government agencies pressurized the media through new laws and threats. Houses of media personnel were attacked, raided by the police and security agencies using two ordinances against the media after the promulgation of state of emergency in the country. Pakistan’s mainstream private television news channels remained under ‘official scrutiny’ and several received ‘Press advices’ throughout the year, even before the closure of around 45 TV channels, mainly news channels on November 3, 2007.

Beside attacks on journalists, their families were subjected to violence and intimidation. Brothers of two journalists were killed, one reportedly by a non-state actor, another by an unidentified person, the families had to migrate, while dozens in different parts of the country were forced to relinquish the profession.

Recommendation

Curbs on media must be removed and freedom of expression must be ensured, amendments to PERMA Ordinance be withdrawn and laws regulating press be brought in conformity with human rights.

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NGOs Joint Report

About the author:

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) is an independent media research, documentation and training centre working to promote and defend freedom of press.. Follow us on Twitter / Facebook.

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